Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has fined the Druid Hills Golf Club $90,000 for violating the city's human rights ordinance because the club will not provide spousal benefits to partners of its gay members.
It is the first time the four-year-old ordinance has been enforced in one of the country's most gay-friendly cities. Club leaders, who consider the ordinance unconstitutional, already have pledged to fight the fine.
The ordinance requires that any couple registered as domestic partners with the city be treated as married people. The case involves two gay club members, Randy New and Lee Kyser, who want full spousal benefits for their partners, including golfing privileges and the right to visit the club whether the members are present or not.
They also are seeking the right to transfer membership rights to a partner if a gay club member dies. Currently, the club only grants such privileges to people who are married.
Franklin wrote to club president Kent Smith last week that she is ordering the city solicitor to fine the club $500 a day, up to 180 days, unless the city changes its benefits policy.