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Duke, YMCA terminate agreement

The University and the YMCA of the Triangle Area mutually agreed to terminate their relationship Monday, after they were unable to resolve the issue of whether same-sex couples could qualify as families under the recreation organization's policies.

Under the September 2002 arrangement, Duke employees received a discounted family rate at the Durham YMCA, and in exchange the University included the YMCA in its promotional materials. The disagreement originated when the YMCA of the Triangle Area took over the Durham branch and implemented its own policy regarding which groups should qualify for family benefits. Duke counts same-sex couples as families, but the YMCA, which admits such couples, does not discount their membership fees.

The agreement will be officially over after a 60-day period stipulated in the contract's original terms, but no employees of Duke who currently belong to the YMCA will be affected.

The agreement was discarded after a June 28 meeting of officials from both sides, including John Burness, Duke's senior vice president for public affairs and government relations; Mindy Kornberg, assistant vice president for human resources; Doug McMillan, chief executive officer of the YMCA of the Triangle Area; and Judy Bright, executive vice president of the YMCA of the Triangle Area.

Burness did not discount the possibility of a new agreement if the YMCA changes its policy in the future.

"Now we're going to see what they do with their rates and their membership criteria," he said.

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