Men-only Rhode Island yacht club dealing with fallout

AP News
|
Posted: Jun 28, 2016 4:30 PM

WESTERLY, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island yacht club that allows only men as members is dealing with fallout of the policy, as at least one event there has been canceled and a local hospital says it won't book future events there.

The membership of the Westerly Yacht Club voted this month to uphold the policy . The club allows wives as associate members, but they can't vote. Women who are not married to a male member can't join, even as associate members, a policy that has the effect of barring lesbians.

Performer Dave Kane said Tuesday that he canceled his planned one-man comedy show booked for January at the club after he learned about the policy. He said his show includes a segment where he talks about how God loves everybody the same, regardless of their sexual preferences.

"I just cannot possibly do that," Kane said. "I just want to make some kind of difference. This is trying to pressure the club to come into the 21st century."

The Westerly Hospital auxiliary planned an event at the club for Thursday before they were aware of the policy, said Michael O'Farrell, a spokesman for Westerly Hospital. That event will go forward because it was too late to cancel, but others won't be booked there, he said.

"We won't hold any future events there unless and until the rules have changed to admit women as full members," O'Farrell said.

Celebrities including Taylor Swift and Conan O'Brien have homes in the seaside community. Several people affiliated with the club have pointed out that Swift, an unmarried woman whose home is in the same zip code as the club, would not be allowed to join it.

The club's commodore did not immediately comment. He has said he does not support the policy, but the vote failed to get a 2/3 majority of members to overturn it, as required by club bylaws. There are about 600 members of the club.