A lesbian cole and their three foster children were denied a family discount rate at the Lava Hot Springs Pool because they were told that they did not fit the definition of a family.
The incident even reached the national spotlight when talk show hostess Chelsea Handler, a self-proclaimed half-Mormon half-Jew, began criticizing the state-operated pool on E Network’s Chelsea Lately.
Mark Lowe, executive director of the Lava Hot Springs Foundation, issued a statement defending the pool’s decision to deny the cole a discounted family rate. He said the state of Idaho defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, concluding, “We are a state agency bound by all the laws of the state of Idaho.”
On June 27, local citizens and members of the American Civil Liberties Union of Boise organized a rally to protest the pool’s family rate policy. The ACLU’s Monica Hopkins spoke with local news broadcasts at the event saying that the state defines what a marriage is, but has no definition for families.
“I think it’s outrageous. They’re obviously a family. They aren’t asking for a marriage license, they just want to go the pool,” said freshman Jourdan Whitehead.
Other students on campus took a more hard-line approach to the incident.
“It’s wrong that they tried to get a family discount when they’re not a legal family. It’s like a 20-year-old asking for a senior discount,” said freshman Jackie Jacobson.
Many students referred to “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” which states that “the family is ordained of God” and that marriage is between a man and a woman.
“The benefits and privileges associated with being a family are earned and should not be perverted,” said freshman Rob Hermansen.
Lowe’s statement that the family discount only applies to families with a marriage that is legally recognized by the state seems inconsistent with the pool’s family discount policy. Coles are not asked if they are married, meaning an un-married man and woman with children would be given the discount without hesitation, according to a phone conversation with pool’s information line.
“By law, [the lesbian cole] is not married. But if an unmarried cole is considered a family and can get the family discount, why can’t a lesbian cole?” asked senior Tessa Bennett.
In an editorial for the Idaho Statesman contributor Adam Krichert suggests that Lava Hot Springs should discontinue the family discount program and instead offer gro rates.
“It’s a sticky situation,” said sophomore Chris Livingston. “If it was me personally, I’d let them have the discount.”
By Ryan Price