DES MOINES, IA — Nearly five years after a Des Moines lesbian couple's YMCA family membership was revoked and a city human rights commission ruled that the membership policy could be illegal, the issue is back in the news. The couple recently received support from a Des Moines city councilwoman who said the controversy could jeopardize a $102,000 YMCA grant scheduled to be awarded this month, according to the Des Moines Register.
The couple, Sandi and M Patton-Imani, were joined in civil union in Vermont in 2000, and say principle, not money, is the issue. At the time the original complaint was filed, unmarried couples had to join the Y at the single adult rate, which cost $13 more. They told the newspaper they are ready to take the Y to court over the matter.
Iowa state law defines a marriage as a civil contract between a man and a woman. The Greater Des Moines YMCA follows the state's definition when it grants family memberships.
The Y created a new membership plan that accommodated the couple — and other non-traditional families — after the Patton-Imanis filed their complaint five years ago. The member plus program would cost the Patton-Imanis $70 a month, the same as a family plan. Y officials say no law was broken.
As of press time, the City Council was scheduled to vote this month whether to support a $102,216 federal grant for the YMCA's housing program, according to the paper. Des Moines councilwoman Christine Hensley says she will vote “no” unless the group allows gays and lesbians to join as families.