THE ISSUE of offering family rates to a gay married couple at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium can now be hung in Tea Party Mayor Don Robart's office as one of his less distinguished deeds however his surrogates choose to define it. But the record would not be complete without inserting a definitive appeal from another official for passage before a Republican majority defeated it with the mayor''s best wishes.
In supporting a family rate for the couple ( which included a wounded Iraqi veteran) , Tim Gorbach, the Democratic chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board, addressed the financial cost of changing the rate structure and just as importantly, the inequality of conflicting rates between the Natatorium and Water Works, which has a more liberal policy.
To questions raised by the discount's opponents, Gorbach said the Natatorium's annual revenue would be reduced by $49,000 - or 1 pct. of the annual budget. As of the end of April, he reported, the Natatorium had net savings of more than $100,000.
"Without reducing any services, we have already more than doubled the amount necessary to account for the projected shortfall, he told the Board.
He said he was "very uncomfortable" with the conflicting rate structures of the two entities under the Parks board, calling the Natatorium's "discriminatory." "I think as a board we should be moving at the speed of light to correct this dichotomy and remove much discriminatory nuances in our Natatorium rate structure as possible.'"
He then struck on a significant element that shaped the issue: "I feel very strongly that we need to apply our discount opportunities more evenly for our membership. We tout in all of our literature how we are family friendly. In fact, our motto is 'whole fitness for the whole family.' Well, I believe we are coming up short in our discount plan options for this to be true."
I would add that considering the minuscule effect on the budget that so concerned the mayor and Republican board members, you had to look for underlying motives to rejecting the request of a same-sex married couple.
I know the Republican majority ignored the board chairman's plea and for the foreseeable future the issue is dead. But it is refreshing to hear a public official in the Falls making so much sense on a matter that was so symbolic for a community's openness to today's social landscape. And for that reason alone, I've posted this report.