Memphis church bans gay softballers, says it won’t condone their ‘deviant’ lifestyle

A softball coach in Memphis says she has been banned from a local church softball league because she is gay.

Jana Jacobson said officials from Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, TN, disqualified her team from competing in their adult women’s softball league because it would send a message to their congregation that they condone her “deviant” lifestyle.

Jacobson said she registered, paid the entry fee and attended an organizational meeting. Later, a church official called her seeking another meeting. At that one, officials began questioning whether she was gay. When she said she was, they told her the team could not play.

Jacobson’s team, which has both gay and straight players, had been playing only one night a week and applied to join Bellevue’s league when they learned they were admitting non-church teams.

Jim Barnwell, Bellevue’s director of communications, has said the church has no plans to comment on Jacobson’s version of events.

Will Batts, Director of the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, said he’s disappointed but not surprised at Bellevue’s decision, “I get that a private organization needs to have rules but this one seems to be based on fear and ignorance.”

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