Judge Won't Strike Out Gay Softball Lawsuit
(CN) - The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association can limit the number of heterosexuals on its teams, according to a federal judge's order, which also ushers forward claims by three bisexual men who say they were kicked out of the Gay Softball World Series because they weren't gay enough.
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 men say organizers told them: "This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series."
They filed suit against the athletic association, saying it violated Washington state's laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation and race. Two of the plaintiffs are black and one is black and Filipino.
U.S. District Judge John Coughenour refused to enjoin enforcement of the two-player rule. "Plaintiffs have failed to argue that there is a compelling state interest in allowing heterosexuals to play gay softball," Coughenour wrote.
"NAGAAA might very well believe that given the history of gay exclusion for sports, the only way to promote competition for all persons, and ensure that gay athletes have the same opportunities as straight athletes, is to create an exclusively gay community with exceptions for a small number of straight players," the ruling states. "It is not the role of the courts to scrutinize the content of an organization's chosen expression."
Coughenour also ruled that the athletic association failed to prove it should not be subjected to public-accommodation laws as "a distinctly private organization." A trial on the remaining claims is set for Aug. 1.