It’s one of those things most families probably take for granted but that gay families deal with on a regular basis; the kind of thing you do without thinking in the course of going about your life an doing things like making plans for a vacation or a move to a new city. You need a hotel room, so you pick up the phone and make a reservation. The only real requirement is that you’re able to pay for the room. All you really need is a credit card.
A gay couple inquiring about a hotel room in South Carolina was turned away because of their sexual orientation, local television station WLTX reported.
Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear told WLTX that they were searching for a home in the Sumter, S.C., area, and needed a place to stay during their search. When calling the Affordable Suites of America, a long-term stay hotel, they asked about pricing and other details on the room.
“She asked who the room was going to be for, and I said for my partner and I,” Pickel said in the news report.
“She said, ‘Oh, we don’t rent to multiple people of the same sex.’ I said, so you don’t rent to gay couples? She said, ‘No, we don’t rent to gay people at all.'”
My first thought was, “Well, that’s what honesty will get you.” But if they’d lied about their relationship and shown up anyway they’d have been stuck in Sumter, S.C. without a place to stay unless they could find a hotel that was willing to rent a room to them.
News19 contacted the hotel, posing as a potential renter, and inquired about two men staying in the same room. The receptionist who answered the phone told us the following: “Our policy is we don’t rent to two people of the same sex if we only have one bed.” “Is that your policy,” we asked. “That’s corporate policy because they only have one sleeping area.” We then asked, “Okay, but they can’t share the bed?” “I suppose they could, but most men don’t want to,” she said.
However, when News19 called the owner of the hotel, Carroll Atkisson, he says there had been some confusion. He says any couple can come to the place and they will rent to them, period. Atkisson says the policy was not mean to target homosexuals. He says they were just trying to stop two single people from being in the same bed.
Um. Wait a minute. It may not target gay couples exclusively, but gay couples can’t get married in South Carolina, nor does the state recognize any other same-sex union. So any same-sex couple in South Carolina is essentially “two single people.” So, the policy targets unmarried couples. But a given the ease of obtaining marriage licenses, a heterosexual couple could get around that by getting married even a few days before their trip, it it was worth that much for them to do so. In fact, unless the hotel requires heterosexual couples to present a marriage license before they can rent a room, a heterosexual couple could just get a cheap pair of rings and present themselves as husband and wife. I bet they’ll be treated as a married couple even though they’re no more legally married than a gay couple.
Same-sex couples don’t have those options, and thus can’t get rooms in that hotel, unless they sleep in separate beds. And I suppose they could take a room with two beds and just share one of them. (I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t even accept that policy when I visit home. Why should anyone accept it in a hotel?)
We’ve stayed in hotels on vacation, and spent two weeks in an extended stay hotel when Parker was born, while we waited for the interstate compact to be completed so we could take him home. Only once have we run into a slight problem. (We usually head off any problems by presenting ourselves up front as a family.) We were checking into a hotel in Miami, where the hubby was attending a conference.
Parker was about 10 months old then. When we arrived at the front desk, the woman working there (based on her accent, I think she was Jamaican, but I wasn’t sure) acted kinda funny about checking us in, and lingered over the fact that we were renting a room with only one bed and a crib, for Parker. She looked at Parker, then as the hubby, then me and asked “Which one of you is the baby’s father?”
“We both are,” we answered in unison, though I silently thought “What business is it of yours?” I didn’t say that, but I gave her a look intended to say “Do you really want to say something about it?”
She checked us in without any further questions.