Editorials

Men’s rights advocates are strong-arming small businesses by claiming discrimination

Paso Robles Golf Club is named in a lawsuit claiming it discriminated against men by hosting a women’s clinic.
Paso Robles Golf Club is named in a lawsuit claiming it discriminated against men by hosting a women’s clinic. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Steve Frye — a “men’s rights advocate” — has another victim in his sights: The Paso Robles Golf Club.

Frye recently filed a lawsuit claiming he was denied access to a women’s golf clinic held in 2017.

He says he missed out on several freebies offered to participants — including golf instruction, use of a golf cart and other equipment, and alcoholic beverages.

Frye, who has filed dozens of similar cases, alleges the golf course violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of “sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation.”

As ridiculous as it sounds, he may have a case; the law has been used to successfully challenge bars that offer “ladies’ night” discounts on drinks and/or cover charges.

What a blow for small business.

Bars and golf courses aren’t discriminating by offering perks to women; neither are health spas that provide special treatments for men.

They are simply trying to entice more customers to walk through their doors. Think of it as another form of a senior discount, or a kids meal.

Golf courses have a particularly good reason to reach out to women with special offers: In the past, the sport hasn’t been exactly welcoming.

Consider this: There’s a myth — or maybe it’s a bad joke? — that “GOLF” is an acronym for “Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.”

Even today, women are vastly underrepresented in golf; only 23% of golfers are women, according to the National Golf Foundation.

Yet Frye begrudges women some free lessons and a cocktail or two?

How mean-spirited can you get?

Look, there are all sorts of events that my be in technical violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, whether it’s free golf clinics for women or those men-only Christmas shopping events that offer discounts and advice to men who are too intimidated to pick out jewelry or lingerie or sweaters all by themselves.

Filing lawsuits over such petty matters is a terrible thing to do to small businesses.

It also wastes valuable court time.

And worst of all, it makes a mockery of what the Unruh Civil Rights law was initially intended to address: businesses that arbitrarily deny essential services like hotel accommodations, rental housing, bank loans and medical care because of someone’s race or religion or disability.

You know, things that matter.

Yet our litigious society has come to this: We have men — Frye isn’t the only one — running around filling frivolous lawsuits because they are denied access to women-only gyms or they have to pay a higher cover charge to get into a nightclub.

Guys like Frye aren’t advocating for men. They’re attempting to strong-arm businesses and bullying innocent people in the process.

That’s got to stop.

If California law prevents what is clearly a marketing strategy intended to attract new customers, it’s time to change the law.

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