Treatment of Lesbian Couple at Catfish Derby Lands Lions Club a Warning from Lambda Legal
'It's not just insulting; it's illegal'
(Huntington, Oregon, July 16, 2009) - Lambda Legal has delivered a warning to Lions Club International charging that the treatment a lesbian couple received at a club-sponsored Oregon catfish derby violates state anti-discrimination laws.
On May 22, Angela and Tina Corriere-Gooch attended a Huntington, Oregon, catfish derby with their family. As the group approached the registration area that evening, a Club representative explained that the event pricing included a discount for couples, and added, "but none of this boy-boy, girl-girl couples crap." When another man in the room suggested that Angela and Tina should be given the discount if they could document their relationship status, the club representative stated that this is how the Club has "always done it," and that the club had no intention of changing its policy. Adding insult to injury, the Corriere-Gooches' young nieces and their boyfriends were given the "couples" discount, while Angela and Tina both were charged the full admission price.
"It's insulting and degrading that the Club treated us like strangers, instead of recognizing our committed relationship," said Tina Corriere-Gooch.
"It's not just insulting; it's illegal," said Tara Borelli, the Lambda Legal staff attorney who drafted the letter. "Oregon's public accommodations antidiscrimination law expressly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and sex, and Angela and Tina were denied equal accommodations on both of those grounds. The Lions Club needs to make sure its clubs are aware of states' anti-discrimination laws, and in fact, follow the club's own guidelines, which include, in its own words, 'fostering a spirit of understanding among people and taking an active interest in the social and moral welfare of the whole community.'"
The Corriere-Gooches are requesting that all Oregon Lions clubs receive notice of their antidiscrimination obligations under Oregon law, a meaningful plan to ensure that clear notice is provided specifically to Huntington, Oregon Lions Club members, and a written apology.
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