Gay Couple and Daughter Denied Family Discount at Pennsylvania Pool and Sports Club

Michelle and Sandy Gladfelter and their five-year old daughter hoped to enjoy the family discount at Green Valley Swimming Pool & Sports Club in West Manchester Township, Pennsylvania.

GreenvalleyThey were turned down, the York Daily Record reports:

Michelle applied for membership at the pool and later received a call from owner Russ Jacobs. Jacobs told her she and her family would be welcome to join, but the discount does not apply to them.

"We don't recognize same-sex marriages," Jacobs said in an interview.

The reason, he said, isn't political; it's economic. He wouldn't bar Michelle and her family or any other family from joining the pool. But Jacobs says if he gives the discount to Gladfelter, he'd have to extend it to grandparents, cousins — you name it.

Jacobs said marriage itself isn't a factor. A heterosexual couple, regardless of whether they're married, would be granted the discount. "I have to draw the line somewhere," he said.

Jacobs did not single out Michelle and her family. In fact, he said, this isn't the first time he's had to deny the discount for similar reasons. Green Valley is a club, he said. It's his bar to set, and he sets it at a man, a woman and, if there are any, children.

Green Valley's contact information is here should you wish to share with them how you feel about their policy.


  1. Steve says

    Grand parents are presumably married to each other. And first cousin marriage is legal in many states, although not in Pennsylvania. So he really has nothing to worry about. What a ridiculous argument. He could just require people to live together

  2. pedro says

    Yeah, it’s bigotry…If he were requiring that the het couples were married, then I could understand why he would bar an unmarried gay couple…But since he admits that he gives the family discount to unmarried het couples, then it’s purely his bigotry that’s preventing him from giving it to gay couples…But it is a private club and he has the right to let in whomever he wishes…they should just find a more welcoming place for themselves and their daughter.

  3. Francis says

    “I have to draw the line somewhere” says it all. We don’t really need to discuss why this was done, since Mr. Jacobs makes clear his anti-gay views. Let’s all leave a comment to Green Valley and Mr. Jacobs and let him know what we think about his actions.

  4. Kevin_BGFH says

    And yet he extends the policy to straight UNMARRIED couples. So it’s not at all about marital status, it’s about sexual orientation.

    Since it’s a private club, I’m not sure that public accommodation laws would extend to them the way it would to a restaurant or B&B. And Pennsylvania’s LGBT protections extend to employment but not public accommodations. But he still may find the negative PR to be not worth it.

  5. Jeff M. says

    I edited their homepage text and sent it to them. Here is my version.

    “Welcome to our web site. Green Valley Swimming Pool and Sports Club is a heterosexual family-oriented, outdoor sports club that offers straight families a comfortable place to enjoy the summer months together. The atmosphere is relaxing, and there is something for everyone (as long as you are not gay). Plan to spend the summer with us bigots.”

  6. Daniel says

    This really hit home because I grew up about 15 minutes away from this place. I emailed him this. I would encourage everyone to write a respectful message that urges him to take a stand for equality:

    Dear Mr. Russ Jacobs,

    I read about the news story in which a same-sex couple was denied a family discount at the West Manchester swimming pool with sadness.

    I am a native of York Country and a gay man. I grew up in Red Lion and graduated from Red Lion Area Senior High School in 2003. Pennsylvania, and York County in particular, is my home. And that’s the reason I am writing to you; because I deeply care about equality in my hometown. As a gay man, I can attest to you that every day is a minor struggle for equality. Every time I have to register for events, make vacation plans, or even describe my weekend, I have to debate the merits of coming out. And it’s a struggle each time because I am never quite sure how someone will react.

    That’s why I believe it’s so important to promote inclusion whenever possible.

    For this reason, I beg of you, please reconsider your decision to grant the same-sex couple a family membership. The cost to you will be minimal (and perhaps it will be an additional source of revenue if other same-sex couples join). The benefits, however, are enormous. If you decide to grant them family membership, it will be one additional step towards equality for that couple. As Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, “The moral arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”

    I hope that you will consider becoming part of that bend.

  7. says

    @ DANIEL: Bravo, bravo, bravo for this sentence: “As a gay man, I can attest to you that every day is a minor struggle for equality. Every time I have to register for events, make vacation plans, or even describe my weekend, I have to debate the merits of coming out. And it’s a struggle each time because I am never quite sure how someone will react.”

    Even those of us who are very out deal with this—and it’s emotionally tiring, if not exhausting. Thank you for hitting that nail right on the head.

    BTW, my Dad and his family are from Lancaster Co., just across the Susquehanna.

  8. zeddy says

    Yay! Yet another place to make miserable until they realize how f-ed up they are by being homophobes. While normally this would be irritating, I actually find myself invigorated. Keep the pressure on!

  9. Hollywood, CA says

    I guess the fact that they weren’t out right rejected from the facility is a step in the right direction. Pay the fee, join the club, and try to change it from the inside. or, get in and raise a holy hell of a stink.

  10. says

    amen to Daniel and DavidR.

    i’ve been fully Out since I was in highschool, and YES, it is exhausting. not that being Out is exhausting, as it’s liberating and truly a weight off my shoulders, but the sheer reality that every day I’m aware that I’m going to be, perhaps, the first “gay contact” some people have had. the questions, the glances, the looks. in its own way it’s being on the Front Lines of a culture war. And as we all know the front lines are calling for back up and are rather tired of hearing the excuses people have for not joining.

  11. Mary says

    In allowing cohabitating sraight couples the discount but denying it to married gay couples, it seems the ownner here is really less pro-family than he is anti-gay. He is right, of course, that we have to draw the line somewhere regarding the definition of “family.” But why not start with people who have make the relationship legal? It seems to me that this would the logical place to start. If I owned a resort like this I wouldn’t feel comfortable DENYING a legally created gay family the discount – as the legal definition of what constitutes a “family” has already changed, whether I like that change or not. What will he do when gay marriage is legal in Pennsylvania?

  12. Dearcomrade says

    I would join this club just to relieve my bowels in his pool, right in the middle of a busy holiday weekend. Yes siree Bob, I’d float my boat in the deep end. Make the swine drain & clean it.

  13. Sean says

    I grew up in York County as well and I have to commend Daniel. York County is an extremely difficult place to grow up gay. Right wing republicans are in the majority in Central PA. My school experience there (Spring Grove HS Class of ’91) was horrible, and I was harassed daily. As I understand things, the locals recently managed to invent problems to try to close the only gay bar in town. When I graduated, I moved away for college and have no intention of ever moving back. I still get some evil looks, and harassment living in a big city, but it is nothing compared to what I experienced in York.

  14. DanB says

    Let’s also remember one of the reasons these private swim clubs exists is because back in the 60’s and 70’s the communities were no longer legally allowed to keep blacks out of public swimming pools. With that heritage, I’m somewhat surprised that the line was drawn as far back as “no discounts”. I do wonder what would happen if two gay men and their child tried to join.

    These clubs are nothing I’d ever want to admit myself as a member.

  15. Bill says

    I actually went to this pool growing up, and my sister was a lifeguard there for many years. I am extremely liberal, but my sister (who is straight), is more liberal than I am. Russ, the man who owns the pool, is about as republican as can be. He and my sister got into an argument when I got my first tattoo. I was not all surprised when I read that this was his pool. He also doesn’t allow rap music to be played across the music system and you can count the nonwhite people at the pool on one hand.

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