Gay Couple Denied Family Golfing Pass By Fargo Park Board



FARGO – A Fargo gay couple legally married in another state says they may shoot for birdies elsewhere after being denied a discounted family pass to the city’s public golf courses.

Katy Kjelvik and her wife, Steph Rindy, who were legally married in Iowa in 2011, were told Tuesday that they can’t receive a family pass from the Fargo Park District because the courses base their policy on state law, which defines marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.

“It’s just kind of infuriating the way they responded,” said Kjelvik, a Fargo native who has golfed in the city since she was a child. “It made it seem like it was out of their hands.”

The park district follows Internal Revenue Service guidelines, meaning those who can apply for the family pass have to be able to legally say they are “married” when they file taxes, said Jim Larson, the district’s director of finance and human services.

“We actually answer this question more often for (an unmarried) heterosexual couple that’s living together versus a gay/lesbian couple,” Larson said. “And we respond the same.”

For one thing, we’re clearly taking the qualifications for a family pass at the golf course a little too seriously. They follow IRS guidelines? Really? It’s a golf pass, fellas. Lighten up.

Second, this illustrates perfectly the tiny agonies brought on by the refusal of some in our society to recognize the right of adult, consenting human beings to love one another. Can anyone blame the gays for being outraged by this sort of treatment? It’s humiliating and demeaning, and the Fargo Park District ought to be ashamed of themselves.

If this were a private golf course I’d support (if not necessarily agree with) whatever decisions they want to make in this regard. But this is a public golf course. Equality ought to be the standard.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • The Whistler

    Who cares what Iowa says?

  • splined

    If a man had 10 wifes would this family also fail to qualify for discounted family pass? How about the man who married his sister or child all of legal age and of free will of course?

  • Drain52

    Jeesh! When did having a golf pass determine whether or not you could have a loving, consenting relationship?

    The golf pass is subsidized by taxpayers, the majority of whom have said that they are morally opposed to recognizing gay marriages. The policy is based (rightly so) on Jefferson’s observation that
    “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

    The argument won’t go away until you take government and taxpayer money out of the equation.

  • The Whistler

    It’s about 10% cheaper to buy a family pass rather than two singles. It’s a great deal for a family with large children, but not so much for a childless couple. I’d hardly call it an agony or humiliating and demeaning.

  • Kevin Flanagan

    Which tees do they use?

    • flamemeister

      The ones reserved for the no-ball twosomes.

    • Zog


    • sbark

      Ya for sure, and will they allow fore play….ah I mean will they let people play thru on slow play?

  • Jeff

    I think this is a situation where the guy behind the counter was just following the rules set out. I heard on the radio that the head of the park board (forget his name) came out and said they should have come to them, not the media; and they could probably have worked something out. It’s kind of like the whole issue a while back about marriage announcements of gay couples in the Forum. They went wight to the media. It would be a shame if both cases were just a means to promote their social values and using that as a platform for social issues. Although I am not a proponent of gay marriage; I think that if a gay couple has documentation of marriage from another state where it is legal, they should get the benefits of a family golf pass. I do see the concern that if we can give golf passes, what’s to say that other benefits like governmental benefits won’t be sought out. I think that small circumstance cases like a golf pass could be an exception.

    • The Whistler

      And what to learn from this? This couple is looking to get attention rather than a golf pass.

      • devilschild

        I agree with you. I think they are gay activists looking for publicity.

    • Lianne

      “Although I am not a proponent of gay marriage; I think that if a gay couple has documentation of marriage from another state where it is legal, they should get the benefits of a family golf pass”
      I don’t sign in, and therefore can not hit the disagree button, but for the record, I disagree. They can go live in Iowa or any of the other states that recognize lesbian marriage.

  • Lianne

    I don’t live in the area so I don’t know if there have been lots of complaints to the media from unmarried heterosexual couples because they are not recognized as a family for a round of golf; but as the old adage goes—when in Rome, do as the Romans do. North Dakota does not recognize same sex marriages. IF we all were required to have a civil union or contract with those choosing to go an extra step and be married in a church service, that is one thing, but we aren’t, we don’t and these women are not forced to live in a state that does not recognize their marriage.

    I suppose there will be a law suit and the park’s definition of a family will have to be changed. IF that happens then ANY two people or groups of 6 or 8 or 10 could be considered a family and get a round of golf for the great discount of 10%.

    These poor women were so put upon. Sorry, I have no time for whiners who think they are being treated unfairly. Unfairly is most often only a state of mind.

    • headward

      The lawsuit will fall on its face. The park district is respecting the state constitution and was clear on the policy. I see them getting tons of media attention which is exactly they’re going for.
      The park district could state even married couples and their children are what the family package includes. Since they are in the state of North Dakota they are not married. I don’t care if they got married in every state in the union. That’s the law not that I agree with it but go play golf somewhere else.

      • Lianne

        Glad to hear it would fall flat on its face. Like I said, when in Rome…
        It may be that the park will change their policy to state parents with child/children to clarify the meaning of family.

  • Stuart

    Shouldn’t tax payer funded entities abide by State Law and Legal Definitions? I mean what ever happen to the belief in States rights and the majority rules? You can’t have it both ways even though you want to go both ways. Is that so Wong?

  • Opinion8ed

    They have the right to make their own rules and this couple can golf they just cannot get the discount. My brother had no kids so he could not take a child tax credit. Rules are rules

    • Davo


      REGULAR RATE: $150 a year.

      RATE FOR BLACKS: $25,000 a year.

      Rules are rules.

  • ND Observer

    This is precisely why North Dakota needs SB2252 to prevent discrimination of gays and lesbians under state law. People should be treated equally under the law, and when people are discriminated against as a class (blacks, gays, handicapped, etc.) in public settings, it is wrong, People can be has hateful, angry, nasty and bigoted as they want in private at home, but they cannot cause harm to innocent people in the public.

    • headward

      This wouldn’t change the policy of the park district. The couple is not married in the state of North Dakota. Their marriage is considered an unconstitutional contract and is not recognized in this state. I don’t think it’s a good thing but the people of North Dakota put it in so we have to respect and follow those laws. SB2252 would not change a thing since the constitution trumps state law.

    • Jeremiah Glosenger

      They are allowed to golf at the park with everybody else. They just have to pay the unmarried price like everyone else who actually isn’t legally married in this state. SB2252 is a huge assault on the religious liberty of individuals in disguise. There are lots of problems with that bill in it’s current form that would need addressed to protect the religious rights of our citizens.

    • jl

      Except they weren’t being discriminated against. The first part of your “people should be treated equally” starts out well enough, but then like a good little Liberal you divide people into sperate classes.

  • Jeremiah Glosenger

    It is about the definition of marriage and goes far deeper than a “golf pass.” I would assume you also support adult incestual relationships, polygamy, and bestiality (assuming a zoologist confirms that the animal is “consenting”). They need “equality” under the law too right? Surely you don’t support any time tested, biologically sound, absolute moral standard that would in some way “demean” or “humiliate” them do you?

  • dlao

    why no story on the people who just live together being denied? Just a story when gay people are denied!

    • Davo

      Because this couple is legally married; North Dakota allows discrimination on the basis of gender.

  • Flamejob5

    While i agree this is a trivial matter concerning a golf pass, two same-sex members indeed do not qualify as a “family.” The laws of Nature, whereupon our rights derive from, define the conditions required of a family irregardless of the passionate goodintentions involved with the desire to change the definition.

    Perhaps the solution is as simple as golf courses offering a similar discount for civil union couples.

    All i’m advocating for here is not blurring the long-standing definitions of terms which have acted as lingual pillars to structuring societies for thousands of years.