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Judge rules gay softball league can limit the number of straight players

Saturday, June 4, 2011
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A federal judge in Seattle this week refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by three men who claim they were disqualified from the 2008 Gay Softball World Series for not being “gay enough,” but did rule that the league can limit the number of straight players on its teams.

The ruling was announced in a lawsuit filed in Washington state against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association.

The three men were playing for a San Francisco softball team in the finals when a rival team challenged their sexuality, citing the rule that limits no more that two heterosexuals per team.

The men were “summoned to a hearing room to answer questions about their sexual interests or attractions, purportedly to determine their sexual orientation, in front of a group of more than twenty-five people, many of whom plaintiffs did not know,” according to their federal complaint.

The three men, who identify as bisexual, said the questioning was intrusive and allege in the lawsuit that the NAGAAA’s rule violated state anti-discrimination laws.

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour found that the NAGAAA, which sponsors the annual event, can keep its rule, and wrote, “Plaintiffs have failed to argue that there is a compelling state interest in allowing heterosexuals to play gay softball.”

But in allowing the case to go forward, Coughenour said “treatment of bisexuals remains of central importance to this case” and that the association “could still be liable for its actions” under the Washington Laws Against Discrimination for actions at the 2008 games.

The suit was backed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, which said the rule discriminated against bisexuals by not including them in the broader definition of “gay.”

The NAGAAA has since revised its rules to include bisexual and transgender people.

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