by Pat Pheifer, Star Tribune
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed a ruling by an Olmsted County judge that the Rochester Athletic Club (RAC) did not discriminate against a lesbian couple when it denied them a family membership.
Amy and Sarah Monson, a same-sex couple raising a daughter together, sued the club and its president and CEO, John Remick, in 2007, claiming the RAC discriminated against them based on their sexual orientation, a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
The club said it simply was following its policy to provide family rates only to married couples.
In November 2007, Olmsted County District Judge Kevin Lund granted summary judgment to Remick and the RAC, saying that the Monsons couldn't prove that heterosexual unmarried couples were treated any differently than same-sex unmarried couples.
The Monsons and the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota in a friend-of-the-court brief argued at the Appeals Court that the lower court's analysis was legally flawed because it compared the Monsons to unmarried heterosexual couples rather than to all heterosexual couples. They asserted that because same-sex couples can't legally marry in Minnesota, only heterosexual couples can qualify for family memberships.
Gregory Griffiths, an attorney for the RAC, said at the time of the lower court's decision that the court upheld his argument that the issue was not up to the courts but rather to the Legislature to change the statute.
Phil Duran, an attorney with Outfront Minnesota, who has helped represent the Monsons, said Tuesday that he is disappointed but not surprised by the Appeals Court ruling.
"We have been aware since the case was filed in 2007 that in many respects, it hinged on questions regarding technical aspects of the Minnesota Human Rights Act which might ultimately have to be resolved by the Minnesota Supreme Court."
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