SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Four former Bay Area Gold’s Gym franchises are officially cutting ties with the body-building chain following a 2010 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.

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The group, founded by former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former George W. Bush senior adviser Karl Rove, supported anti-gay candidates in the congressional midterm elections, prompting Bay Area owners to vow an end of their association with the chain once the existing contract ran out.

The contract has expired, and the four former Bay Area Gold’s locations now exist under the name Fitness SF.

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,” Don Dickerson, Director of Operations for Gold’s Gym Bay Area said in October of 2010.

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At the time, Rowling said his donation was not in opposition of gay rights, but in support of American Crossroads’ push for fiscal responsibility. A company spokesman also said that there had been talk of ending the contract prior to the 2010 decision.

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.”

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.


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