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Florida Children’s Museum Membership Policy Excludes Same-Sex Families

Monday Jun 10, 2013
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A same-sex Florida couple’s fight with a Jacksonville children’s museum due to a membership policy that discriminates against them, has spurred debates on social media and is receiving national attention in the pages of USA Today.

As first reported on Gannett’s First Coast News

Karen 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.

First Coast News further reports 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.

A statement released by the museum in response to the controversy reads

"The Hands On Children’s Museum Family memberships are very specific. They have not changed in 13 years. Our Family Membership cost has only gone up $1.00 in almost 13 years. To keep our rates as reasonable as possible, we do not allow any substitutions; whether they are friend, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa or any other person.

"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,"

Karen Lee-Duffell.

The Hands On Children’s Museum strives to make cost reasonable for all people to visit. For this cause we do not allow substitutions on memberships. If, in the past the extra person had been added there would have not be any confusions."

The incident has taken to social media with a Facebook page was started last Friday with over 900 supporters titled "Boycott The Hands On Children’s Museum Jacksonville." The group gives updates on the incident and information on an upcoming protest to be held at the museum as well as a link to a Change.org petition with over 950 signers.

Another Facebook page with 38 followers in support of the museum’s policy was also created. The description on that page reads, "The Hands on Children’s Museum of Jacksonville Fl needs your support. This fun place for families is being slandered by a group of people who do not have the same views as the museum of the definition of "Family". Please support the FAMILY!"

This group plans a counter protest in the following post.

Want to get involved and help??? The Boycott group (that is slandering the museum) is planning a picket on June 22 from 1-3pm. Come to the museum and show your support of the FAMILY. And if any one has any ideas of how we can show our support post it! Lets show this boycott picket that we support the family!

Which elicited a comment
"It’s only slander if it’s not true..."

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

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