Family membership of same-sex couple denied

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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (WTLV) – A same-sex couple who tried to renew its family membership at a local museum said they are being treated differently for being a family of two moms.

The Hands on Children’s Museum of Jacksonville is not denying the women a membership, but the couple is upset they have to pay more than a family that would include a mom and a dad.

“It really just feels like a punch in the gut when you go somewhere and it’s kind of thrown in your face, we don’t want to treat you equally and we’re not going to make any effort to do that,” said Karen Lee-Duffell.

Lee-Duffell said she’s had a membership at Hands on Children’s Museum of Jacksonville for over three years, but when she went to renew her membership this week an employee noticed that Mom and Dad’s names on the forms were really Mom and Mom.

“She says ‘oh wait no, you’re going to have pay an extra ten dollars to add this other mom, you can’t have two moms’ and she points up at the sign, a family membership consists of one mom and one dad,” said Lee-Duffell.

Lee-Duffell said the employee told her the museum is concerned about people taking advantage and putting multiple families on one membership.

The Museum Director said in a statement to First Coast News that the memberships are very specific and do not allow substitutions.

“Just like if they were telling me that we weren’t really a family that they obviously thought that we weren’t a family and that it did not matter to them that we were being treated unfairly,” said Lee-Duffell.

The business is within its legal right to create membership plans how it see fit and since Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages, legally the business does not have to.

Still the news has spread on social media with a Facebook page and petition against the membership policy at the museum, already generating over 200 signatures.

“I’m not out to destroy anybody. What I would like to see happen is for them to change their policy and make it be equal,” said Lee-Duffelll. “It’s not like I couldn’t afford the extra ten dollars, but it’s the principle of the thing.”

Lee-Duffell says she is switching her four-year-old and 13-month old daughters to a different museum this summer.

“We’re members of the YMCA, we’re members of the Cummer Art Museum, we’re members of the Museum of Art and History, we’re members of the zoo; all of these places have never had a problem with the fact that we’re family and giving us the family membership,” added Lee-Duffell.

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