Jennifer Coleman, senior vice president of consumer affairs for the Baylor Health Care System, has yet to respond to our request for comment from Wednesday about the Tom Landry Fitness Center’s policy of blatantly discriminating against same-sex couples.
However, Coleman did respond to a letter from Alan Rodriguez, the gay East Dallas resident who’s planning to file a discrimination complaint against the Baylor-owned Fitness Center for refusing to sell a family membership to him and his partner of 10 years.
“Thank you for your e-mail and phone call,” Coleman wrote in an e-mail to Rodriguez, which he provided to Instant Tea. “The Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center offers, and will continue to offer, a family discount to a husband and wife pursuant to the Texas law definition of marriage. The fitness center is a private membership health club that is open to all applicants who meet membership criteria that are non-discriminatory. The fitness center has and welcomes a diverse membership.”
We’ve heard several people in the LGBT community comment that if the Fitness Center wants to discriminate against same-sex couples, people should simply take their money and memberships elsewhere.
And while this is certainly true, there are a few other problems: One, the Baylor Health Care System operates a dozen medical facilities in North Texas alone, which is downright scary in light of this policy; and two, the city of Dallas has an ordinance that prohibits this type of discrimination — in the same way that state and federal law prohibit businesses from discriminating on the basis of things like race.
Unfortunately, the city doesn’t seem to want to enforce the ordinance. As we’ve said repeatedly, more than 40 c0mplaints have been filed since the ordinance passed in 2002, but not one has every been prosecuted by the city.
Steven Johnson, a gay man who filed a discrimination complaint against the Tom Landry Fitness Center last year, says he withdrew it after city officials advised him that the gym is exempt from the ordinance because it’s a private club.
But that’s a bunch of bullshit. The ordinance provides no exception for private clubs.
We’ve been playing phone tag with Beverly Davis of the city’s Fair Housing Office, which is charged with investigating complaints under the ordinance, to find out whether it’s true that officials advised Johnson to withdraw his complaint.
We’ll let you know when we get in touch with Davis and/or Coleman.
In case you’re wondering, Coleman can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]