PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA – Gold’s Gym in the Coachella Valley plans to steer clear of an anti-gay flap that has developed in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Owners of four Gold’s Gym franchises in the San Francisco, Oakland and Marin County area have severed ties with Gold’s parent company CEO, Robert Rowling, after he gave money in 2010 to American Crossroads, a conservative group that has been unfriendly to gay rights.
Michelle Herrera, general manager of the Gold’s Gym in Palm Desert, said the franchise she works for, which has operations in three states, “has no connection to any political agendas whatsoever.”
“We’re a business, and we’re here to help people reach their fitness goals,” Herrera said.
The issue centers on Rowling, owner of Gold’s Texas-based parent company TRT Holdings. Rowling’s donation went to a group that was founded by former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former George W. Bush senior adviser Karl Rove.
The group supported anti-gay candidates in the congressional mid-term elections. Once the four franchises’ contract with Gold’s parent company expired on Sept. 15, the four locations re-emerged under the name Fitness SF. Rowling said at the time he made the donation that he was supporting American Crossroads’ efforts to reach fiscal responsibility, rather than opposing gay rights.
Herrera said owners of the two Gold’s Gyms at 4070 Airport Center Drive in Palm Springs and 77-900 Cathedral City Drive in Palm Desert have built a “family organization” without political or religious agendas.
A spokesman for Gold’s Gym International distanced the firm from its parent company and Rowling, saying in a 2010 statement: “Gold’s Gym did not make a donation to American Crossroads (or any other political organization) and in no way supports anti-gay causes. Quite the contrary, the Gold’s Gym family has been strong supporters of the LGBT community over the years.”
Gold’s Gym International has supported PRIDE events, has donated to LGBT charities and has sponsored LGBT media outlets.
Spokesman Dave Reiseman noted that Rowling’s donation was a private one and completely independent from — and not on behalf of — Gold’s Gym International.
from The Desert Sun
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Bay Area Gold’s Gyms Drop Affiliation After Anti-Gay Flap