Skip to comments.Lesbians Seek Country Club Privileges
Posted on 06/25/2004 4:51:21 PM PDT by Indy Pendance
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- B. Birgit Koebke golfs alone because no one at her country club will play with her. She hits the links late in the day to avoid running into hostile club members. If a group of golfers happens to be ahead of her, they don't let her play through.
"I just sit there and wait," she says. "They've made it impossible for me to enjoy the club."
Koebke, a 47-year-old television sales executive, is a longtime member of the Bernardo Heights Country Club. She is also lesbian, and her extended drive to win club golfing privileges for her partner of 12 years, Kendall French, has turned other members against her.
Koebke hopes the California Supreme Court will rule that the state's civil rights laws require the club to offer French, her state-registered domestic partner, the same benefits afforded to spouses.
Bernardo Heights maintains that state law allows it to limit such privileges to married couples.
John Shiner, the club's attorney, says the club simply wishes "to make a distinction between those who are legally married and those who are not married." The club's position, he says, "has absolutely nothing to do with sexual orientation."
Koebke joined Bernardo Heights in 1986 and began inviting French to golf there in the early '90s. A member's spouse or children may golf for free, but guests must pay a $70 fee and can play only six times a year.
"She's not my guest," Koebke says. "She's part of my family."
Koebke suggested several compromises, such as creating a "significant others" category. The club's board of directors rejected the idea.
The club suggested French buy her own membership (current price: $9,500) - an invitation she finds insulting.
"Tell me," French says, "how many of the other members are willing to pay double for their household?"
In 2001, Koebke sued. A judge dismissed the case in 2002. But last March, an appeals court partially overturned the ruling, ordering the trial court to consider evidence the club treated some unmarried heterosexual couples as spouses.
(The club denies it has knowingly done that. It says that if such a thing happened, it was because the club was misled or did not know the couple was unmarried.)
Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the larger question of whether Koebke has a case under California's civil rights law. No date has been set for the arguments.
Several club members declined to discuss the case. The club counsel sent a letter to members in 2001 asking them not to comment publicly.
Nationwide, country clubs are divided over how to treat same-sex and unmarried couples, with about a third offering at least some benefits, according to Andrew Fortin, spokesman for the National Club Association, a Washington trade group of about 1,000 organizations.
Many, he says, are waiting to see what happens with Koebke's case.
A similar conflict has unfolded in Atlanta, where the city Human Relations Commission ruled in January that the Druid Hills Golf Club violated the city's anti-discrimination ordinance by refusing spousal benefits to two gays couples.
At Bernardo Heights, Judy Stillman says she and her husband enjoyed golfing with Koebke when they joined about three years ago, not knowing about the conflict.
But after their first game, she says, "quite a few people told us that if we ever played golf with her again, we wouldn't have a friend in the club."
"My answer to that was we wouldn't want to consider having them as friends anyway," she says. She and her husband quit the club.
Why can't she and the other Berber munchers start their own clubs?
If you don't like the rules, don't join.
"French, her state-registered domestic partner"
sounds like a damned dog!
What the hell is this "state-registered domestic partner" garbage?
People actually pay to chase balls they have to throw themselves? Strange. Or is that what you bring your wife for--to chase your balls?
Inexpensive club. No wonder they have this little problem. Jack up the price to $35K and no more problems.
Someone mentioned on another thread that this woman works for a TV station and is somewhat of an activist.
She's free to form her own private country club.
BTW... Thanks for posting those lyrics on your page.
It's the last song on the "We Were Soldiers" CD and I play it all the time while driving.
Heard about it on a Reagan thread and bought it that same day.
YAAAWWWWNNN! The feigned outrage is becoming...BORING, and not believable, as if it ever was.
hmmm.... French, wow, her name and.. umm.. sexual preference.. remind me of the nation that really has lead the way in our world's Cultural Revelation that being gay really is ok...
Freedom of Association is pretty much dead. You MUST associate, even in privacy, with those with whom you disagree. You MUST accept all deviancy as "normal."
Next up, what political party you MUST endorse and for whom you MUST vote.
If this is true, she has a good case.
There was a case here in Shreveport, La. involving a private club called Southern Trace. They had a snack bar adjacent to the men's locker room. Women could not access it since they would be in view of naked men. They sued for sexual descrimination. The club argued that they could not remodel to create a snack bar adjacent to the women's locker room because there were not enough women members to make it profitable. There was already a full restaurant available to both sexes.
The women won the lawsuit. The women were all lesbians. This was obviously not mentioned in the media but I know them personally.
Could a private club make a rule barring homosexuals from membership? The Boy Scouts seem to have set that precedent for right of association. I don't know if there's a legal difference between a club and an organization.
I can see it now. Rainbow tees. ;)
Maybe she's into divots or something.
THis all goes back to Brown vs. Board. When the Supreme Court fallaciously ruled that separate is inherently unequal, and deprived citizens of the right to free association, they in essence ruled that the state becomes the arbiter of interpersonal relationships, not individuals. That opened the door to just these kinds of actions: forcing people to rub elbows with people they despise, simply because doing so makes some liberal feel all oogy-squishy.
Golf. Dumb game, play it long enough and it'll turn anyone into a liar.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.