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Club Can Deny Family Rate to Lesbian Couple

(CN) - The Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed a same-sex couple's claim that a racquetball club discriminated against them by denying them the family rate it extends to married couples.

Amy and Sarah Monson, who are living together and raising a child together, asked for the family rate at the Rochester Athletic Club. The club denied their request, saying the rate applies to married couples only.

The Monsons argued that this violated principles of disparate treatment and disparate impact under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. They drew support from the American Civil Liberties Union, which asserted in its friend-of-the-court brief that the policy is discriminatory because, under state law, only heterosexual couples would be able to qualify for the rate.

The court ruled that the club had not treated the couple differently, because it granted no unmarried heterosexual couple a family rate.

"The policy is facially neutral," Judge Halbrooks wrote, pointing out that this decision is in line with other states' rulings on similar cases.

The appeals court also turned down the disparate impact claim, averring that the Minnesota Human Rights Act contains no language addressing the effects of conduct by a provider of public accommodations.

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