A suburban Richmond country club that includes Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard D. Obenshain among its members was sued in federal court here yesterday by a black dentist and his wife who alleged they were denied membership in the club because of their race.
The couple, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Wright, asked for a U.S. District Court order barring discrimination by the Salisbury Club and sought $200,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Obenshain is one of several prominent public figures who were members of the club when the applications of the Wrights and black professional football star Willy Lanier and his wife were rejected last year.Obenshain said he opposed the club's race policy but would remain a member of the club while working to change it. He restated that position at a press conference last week.
Other Salisbury members, including former states Attorney General Anthony F. Troy, resigned after the club's directors rejected the Wrights' application a second time.
The Salisbury Club is closely associated with a Chesterfield County residential development named Salisbury, which surrounds it. The Wrights alleged in their suit that they and the Laniers are the first Salisbury residents ever denied membership in the club.
The Wrights said in their complaint that directors of the club met with them after their second application was turned down and told them they were rejected because of their race.