In a controversial move, the Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board voted down two motions at its meeting on Thursday night to uphold the "w/spouse" membership rate.
Under the Nat's existing rate structure, the w/spouse rate applies only to heterosexual couples who hold marriage licenses recognized by the Ohio Constitution. Such couples are afforded a yearly membership discount of $260 versus those who hold individual memberships.
The motions called for changing w/spouse to "w/spouse or second adult," said board chairman Tim Gorbach.
The amended language would have allowed for any two adults living in the same local household to receive the discount.
Board members Lorrie Shannon, Dick Sebastian and Debbie Ritzinger voted against the motions raised and seconded by Gorbach and board member Bill Santos.
The second motion arose after Ward 5 city councilwoman Diana Colavecchio publicly addressed the board and asked it to reconsider.
Cuyahoga Falls Law Director Paul Janis and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bill Lohan each described the current rate as "discriminatory" since other gym memberships don't carry the same kind of restrictions.
Roughly 80 people were in attendance, with the crowd pretty evenly split on each side of the issue.
The matter was first broached by when he and his husband, Coty May, were told by Natatorium staff in January that they could not receive the spousal discount because their Washington D.C.-based marriage wasn't recognized by the Ohio Constitution.
Coty — a U.S. Army veteran who was injured while serving in Iraq — had used the city gym for physical therapy.
Following the exchange with Natatorium staff, the couple posted an online petition that drew 5,400 signatures. to Mayor Don Robart’s office in February to attract local and, subsequently, national attention in an attempt to convince city leaders to change the rules.
Shane May attended Thursday's meeting and urged the board to make a change. Several folks stood to make the opposite plea.
For more to the story, check back with Cuyahoga Falls Patch at 6 a.m. Friday.