Georgia Equality puts AAA in crosshairs

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imageGeorgia Equality is joining with gay rights groups in Florida and Tennessee to target AAA South for what it calls its “discriminatory policies.”

The statewide gay rights organization on Wednesday emailed supporters on Facebook asking them to call or write AAA South over its policy of prohibiting the partners of gay and lesbian members from being added as associate members to their roadside assistance programs.

AAA South in the past has said LGBT partners can be added as primary members, but not associates. The prohibition can be costly, meaning gay couples pay $34 to $59 more than married, heterosexual couples for an annual membership based on the plan they purchase.

“Because AAA South refuses to allow its gay members to add their same sex spouses as Associate members, we are encouraging everyone, whether you are gay or just a friend of the gay community, to call or write the President of AAA South and demand that they reverse this discriminatory practice,” Jeff Graham (photo), Georgia Equality’s executive director, writes in the email alert. “Other AAA clubs around the country allow same sex partners to be Associate members. AAA South should not stand out as being anti-gay.”

The effort between Georgia Equality, Equality Florida and the Tennessee Equality Project also created a Facebook page for the effort.

The issue of how AAA addresses LGBT couples in its membership plans has created controversy in the past. In 2005, Southern Voice profiled a Georgia couple — Tom Payton and Art Ordoqui — who challenged the anti-gay policy of AAA South.

At the time, AAA South offered this explanation:

“Only spouses or dependent children up to the age of 21 (if in college to age 25) meet our criteria for associate membership,” AAA Club South wrote to Payton in a letter dated Oct. 7. “This policy has been reviewed on several occasions over the years and we have determined that these are the appropriate guidelines for our membership discounts …

“Your partner does not qualify as an associate; however, we would gladly enroll him as a primary member,” the letter said.

The California AAA, which serves Utah, Nevada and Northern California, received a perfect 100 in the most recent rankings in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. AAA South was not included in the rankings.

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