Two New Jersey men have filed a civil rights complaint against the Glen Ridge Country Club, claiming that if they join, they wouldn't be accepted as a married couple.
"The only word people understand is marriage. Are you married or not, and if you're not, you're not," says pantner Michael Norton, a Manhattan native.
He and his partner, Stewart Grossman, who was born in Brooklyn, inquired about joining the Glen Ridge Country Club. But an email response from the Controller, Amy Sikkerbol, said Norton's partner would only have guest privileges, "this is a very old rule still in force that says couples must be married."
New Jersey law does provide for Civil Unions with all the rights of marriage, but gay activists are pressing there and elsewhere for use of the word "marriage" in the law.
"Legislators, what more proof do you need that the civil union and domestic partnership laws are not working in New Jersey," says Garden State Equality's Steve Goldstein.
Goldstein is expecting New Jersey's legislature to replace the term "Civil Union" with "Marriage" before the end of this year, and says this case from Glen Ridge is a poster child of sorts for why the words in the law need to be changed.
The President of GRCC, Barry Shrager, tells News 4 New York's Brian Thompson that the email about "married" spouses was a mistake.
He says a gay couple is currently going through the membership preliminaries. And he released this statement: " The policy of the Glen Ridge Country Club (“GRCC”) is to consider all applicants without reference to race, religion or gender. Further, GRCC will recognize as “couples” any legally sanctioned relationship between two people of any gender. This includes married partners, domestic partnerships and civil unions (both as defined under New Jersey law). This has been and continues to be the policy of GRCC."