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Michael Antisdale and Mark R. Melanson Papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 2105

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of legal documents, clippings, petitions, and correspondence related to Michael Antisdale and Mark R. Melanson's initial appeal to the West Hartford town council and the subsequent civil suit, dating from 1995 to 2003. The materials are organized under three headings: Legal action, News clippings, and Audio files, with materials arranged generally first, then alphabetically, therein.

Legal action contains court documents pertaining to the action filed by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), in which Maureen Murphy and the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) jointly represented Antisdale, Melanson, and their fellow complainants. The legal files contain correspondence between attorneys and clients, as well as affidavits, memoranda, motions, pleadings, and draft settlement agreements. Other materials organized under this heading include statements of support from allied citizens of West Hartford, an open letter to the town council signed by hundreds of members of the community, and council meeting minutes and records dated from 1998 through 1999. It also contains supportive material from “Out of the Blue,” an organization within Blue Cross Blue Shield consisting of gay, lesbian, and allied employees dated from 1995 through 1996, as well as the Legislative Electoral Action Program (LEAP) Achievement Award given to Antisdale and Melanson in 1999.

News clippings document the media coverage of the suit from filing through settlement. The clippings come from several local newspapers, including the Hartford Courant, West Hartford News, West Hartford Life, and New Haven Register. Two clippings come from the New York Times, which reported the story in July of 1998 and again in March 1999.

The dates and contents of the two cassette tapes under the third heading are unknown.

Dates

  • 1995-2003 and undated

Creator

Language of Materials

The materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to Yale University for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection whether such works are at Yale or physically located elsewhere in the world. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Michael Antisdale and Mark R. Melanson, 2019.

Arrangement

The material is arranged under three headings: Legal action, 1995-2003; Newspaper clippings, 1998-2003 and undated; and Audio files, undated, with materials arranged generally first, then alphabetically, therein.

Extent

1 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Overview

Michael Antisdale and Mark Melanson, a gay couple, sued the town of West Hartford in 1998 because the town pool only gave discounted “family” rates to heterosexual couples. Five other cohabitating, non-married couples later joined them in the suit. At the time, the town council was Republican in majority. The suit continued until Democrats came into the majority and settled the case in 2002, and the council revised the definition of “family” in West Hartford's recreational facilities policy to include couples of any sexual identity who lived together. The collection contains legal filings, correspondence, news clippings, and council meeting materials related to the couple's appeal to the West Hartford town council and subsequent civil suit.

Biographical / Historical

In 1998, Michael Antisdale and Mark Melanson, a gay couple, had been living in West Hartford for ten years, and had been domestic partners for over thirteen. That year, the two attempted to become members of the Cornerstone Aquatics Center, a community pool in town, by applying for the residential family rate. They were denied on the grounds that they did not meet the requirements for a family membership, due to the fact that such a membership was only available to married couples. Further, the couple was advised that they would each have to pay for an individual membership should they wish to use the pool. Antisdale and Melanson appealed to the town council in July 1998. The council not only denied their petition, but also refused to revise the definition of “family” in the town’s public accommodations policy. In November 1998, the couple filed a complaint through the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), claiming that the town of West Hartford discriminated against them on the bases of marital status and sexual orientation.

Antisdale and Melanson originally retained the Law Offices of Maureen Murphy, and in December of 1998, Mary Bonauto and Jennifer Levi filed appearances on their behalf as representatives of the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). Five other cohabitating, non-married couples also joined the civil suit against the town for refusing to grant them family memberships. Four of the six who filed were same-sex couples. Delays, stays, and extensions filed by both sides caused the civil suit to continue for over four years.

On November 12, 2002, the parties reached a settlement. The Town Council of West Hartford agreed to amend the language of the Cornerstone Pool fee schedule to include a family and household rate, so as not to discriminate against neither same-sex nor cohabitating, non-married couples. They also amended the rates so that two individual adult memberships cost no more than one family and household membership. The settlement further awarded all plaintiffs family memberships and required the town to make a payment in the amount of $35,000 toward counsel fees for the plaintiffs’ representation. On February 20, 2003, all plaintiffs officially withdrew their complaints against the town of West Hartford.
Title
Guide to the Michael Antisdale and Mark R. Melanson Papers
Author
compiled by Emily Komornik
Date
October 2019
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)