Appellee United States Jaycees is a nonprofit national membership corporation whose objective, as stated in its bylaws, is to pursue such educational and charitable purposes as will promote and foster the growth and development of young men's civic organizations. The bylaws establish several classes of membership, including individual regular and associate members and local chapters. Regular membership is limited to young men between the ages of 18 and 35, while associate membership is available to persons ineligible for regular membership, principally women and older men. An associate member may not vote or hold local or national office. Two local chapters in Minnesota have been violating the bylaws for several years by admitting women as regular members, and, as a result, have had a number of sanctions imposed on them by appellee, including denying their members eligibility for state or national office. When these chapters were notified by appellee that revocation of their charters was to be considered, members of both chapters filed discrimination charges with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, alleging that the exclusion of women from full membership violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act (Act), which makes it "an unfair discriminatory practice . . . [t]o deny any person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation because of race, color, creed, religion, disability, national origin or sex."

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