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Bisexual Softball Players Sue Gay World Series

Carolyn Beeler
04/22/2010

Two years ago Seattle hosted the Gay Softball World Series. Now three San Francisco men are suing the group that organized the tournament. They say they were deemed "not gay enough" to participate. And because of that their team was unfairly stripped of its second place title. KUOW's Carolyn Beeler has this story.

TRANSCRIPT

The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance organizes the Gay World Series. It has a rule about the make–up of the teams that participate: No more than two players can be heterosexual.

The Alliance's lawyer is Beth Allen. She says that rule was designed to create a positive environment for gay and lesbian athletes.

Allen: "Unfortunately a lot of particularly gay men have been discriminated against in their youth and are not perceived to be manly enough to do something such as play softball and many of them have felt left out. This organization grew out of a desire to create that safe place for gay men and lesbians to enjoy themselves and play a little softball."

But the three San Francisco men, who all identify as bisexual, say the rule is discriminatory and illegal. During the final game of the tournament in Kent two summers ago, an opposing team raised questions about their team's eligibility. Five men from the team were questioned by members of the Athletic Alliance.

Shannon Minter is a lawyer with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represents the three men in the case.

Minter: "The five players who were accused of not being gay enough were one by one taken into a room with various league officials and then the players were asked about their sexual desires and fantasies. Are you predominantly attracted to men or women. When our plaintiff said both, that was not accepted as an answer."

According to the suit, three of the five men were deemed not gay. And their team's second–place title was stripped.

The plaintiffs argue that the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance is a public organization. That would make it subject to Washington's anti–discrimination laws. Minter argues that the organization is large, with more than 10,000 members, and its stated purpose is to serve players regardless of sexual orientation.

Beth Allen, the lawyer for the athletic group, says size doesn't matter.

Allen: "I believe it's a private organization and it's acted as a private organization. And I think that because it is a private organization this lawsuit's going to fail."

Allen says groups like the Boy Scouts can determine their own rules for membership. So, the athletic alliance can, too.

It will be up to a federal judge in Seattle to determine whether the athletic alliance is public or private.

The men are suing for $75,000 each for emotional distress. And they're asking that the organization remove its rule limiting the number of straight players on each team.

For KUOW News, I'm Carolyn Beeler.

© Copyright 2010, KUOW

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