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Mr. Kent, an Israeli immigrant, did manage to muscle his way into a Lucille Roberts club in Queens, N.Y. In 2005, he was allowed to join after he convinced the manager, Elaine Rodriguez, that she could not legally exclude him.

Although surrounded by scantily clad women, Mr. Kent says, the only thing he wanted to pick up at the gym were weights. “I went there to work out. That was my only motive.”

In February, Ms. Rodriguez kicked him out, citing female members’ complaints. Mr. Kent, who denies bothering any women, sued Lucille Roberts this summer. He wants to rejoin the club. Phyllis Chessler, a noted feminist and former Lucille Roberts member, says Mr. Kent is really just spiteful. “This guy sounds a bit for tit for tat. ‘You took away my opportunity [to have all-male clubs] so I’m going to make you uncomfortable.’”

Mr. Kent’s case is a good reminder that civil rights law should be enforced equally. Otherwise, it loses its moral authority. As Martin Luther King famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Of course, if King were alive today, these gyms would not let him join.

Evan Gahr is a New York-based writer.