Mayor Shirley Franklin said last week in a letter to Druid Hills Golf Club that the club violated Atlanta's human rights ordinance, which requires businesses to treat domestic partners registered with the city as married couples.
Franklin said she is ordering the city solicitor to fine the club $500 a day for up to six months -- a total of $90,000 -- unless the rule is changed. The solicitor will decide when the fines will begin.
Atlanta has a very proud history of promoting and celebrating diversity, she wrote. Given the club's failure to address the issues internally, I am compelled to act.
The club's board said in an e-mail to members that Franklin has no right to impose a fine.
We continue to believe there is a legitimate and legally recognized distinction between spouse and domestic partner and our policies are non-discriminatory, the board said.
It is the first time the city has enforced the four-year-old ordinance, which allows the mayor to pull liquor and business licenses or impose fines against businesses found to be discriminatory.
The club's policy has been challenged by two gay members who are seeking spousal benefits for their partners, including golf privileges and the right to visit the club on their own.
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