Reporting Holly Quan
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Four Bay Area Gold’s Gym franchises have decided cut ties with the body-building chain after word of a donation by Gold’s Texas-based parent company’s CEO to a conservative outfit unfriendly to gay rights.
Owners of the two San Francisco locations, plus one in Oakland and Marin decided they could not be part of a company whose CEO – Robert Rowling, owner of Gold’s parent company TRT Holdings – gave money to American Crossroads.
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
The group, founded by former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former George W. Bush senior advisor Kark Rove, is supporting anti-gay candidates in the upcoming midterm elections, according to Don Dickerson, director of operations for Gold’s Gym Bay Area.
Gold’s Gyms have been fixtures in the Bay Area for 22 years, with the bulk of the clientele members of the LGBT community.
“Very rarely in a situation like this does a business stand up and actually take a position on the matter, which is why I think people have been so happy that we’ve taken this course of action,” said Dickerson.
Members at the South of Market Gold’s Gym are proud. “They’re standing behind the community,” said one woman.
“It’s a pretty big chance that they’re taking, that’s really sticking to your guns, and I really appreciate that as a gay guy here in the city,” said another member.
A Gold’s International spokesman said there was already talk of ending the contract months ago.Rowling said his donation was not in opposition of gay rights, but in support of American Crossroads’ push for fiscal responsibility.
A spokesman for Gold’s Gym International distanced the firm from its parent company and Rowling, saying in a 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.”
Spokesman Dave Reiseman noted that Rowling’s donation was an private one and completely independent from – and not on behalf of – Gold’s Gym International.
The Gold’s Gym in San Francisco said it’s received at least 500 emails in support of its plans to disassociate with the company.
(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)