Featured events

7-9 September 2012
Brussels Games

Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.

Learn more HERE.
26-28 October 2012
Bern, Switzerland

The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.

Learn more HERE.
17-20 January 2013
Sin City Shootout
Las Vegas
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.

Learn more HERE.

13-16 June 2013
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.

Learn more HERE.

Friday, June 3, 2011

NAGAAA discrimination case to move forward

UPDATE: Read the Wide Rights blog post on this HERE.

From the Seattle Times (h/t to Outsports):

A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by three men who claim they were disqualified from the 2008 Gay Softball World Series near Seattle for not being gay enough.

The men, members of a San Francisco softball team, say they were questioned in front of a room full of strangers about their sexual preferences after a protest was lodged alleging their team had violated a rule that limited to two the number of heterosexuals on any team.

The three men, who are bisexual, say the questioning was intrusive and allege in the lawsuit that the event's sponsor and its rule violate state anti-discrimination laws.

However, U.S. District Judge John Coughenour found that the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association, which sponsors the yearly event, can keep its rule. The First Amendment guarantees of freedom of expression and association allow organizations like the softball association to limit membership to individuals with like-minded beliefs in order to promote a broader agenda — in this case, ensuring gay athletes have a safe and accepting community in which to play, he ruled.

The judge ruled Tuesday on a series of motions brought by both sides in anticipation of an Aug. 1 trial.

The suit was backed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, which had framed it as a push for bisexual rights. It contended the rule discriminated against bisexuals by not including them in the definition of "gay."

Coughenour rejected that contention in the broader sense by not issuing an injunction against the rule, but 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.

To that end, the judge ruled that the association operated as a "public accommodation" by inviting public attendance, charging a fee and providing a service, and therefore must comply with the state's anti-discrimination laws.

And the judge said the First Amendment protections go only so far, pointing to the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in the case of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, whose members spread virulent anti-gay messages at the funerals of U.S. soldiers.

"The court concluded that the First Amendment does not protect all speech," the judge wrote. "Whether or not Defendant's treatment of Plaintiffs at the protest hearing is deserving of First Amendment Protection remains to be seen."

The plaintiffs — Stephen Apilado, LaRon Charles and John Russ — were members of the team D5, which made it to the finals of the Gay World Series in 2008.

During the game, the manager of another team filed a protest under the rule that limits the number of non-gay players. The men contend they were brought, one at a time, into a room containing as many as 25 people and questioned about their sexual preferences.

The panel members then voted on whether they men were gay or "non-gay." Several ballots were held, and the men said the process was humiliating.

Seattle attorney Michael Reiss, who represented the softball association, said he was pleased that the court allowed it to keep its rule and recognized its right to chose its members. He said the organization would "vigorously dispute" the men's version of what occurred in the protest meeting.

Suzanne Thomas, an attorney representing the men and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, praised the judge for finding the association is subject to the state anti-discrimination laws, and said she looked forward to trying the remainder of the case.

"No one should have to go through what they experienced," she said.

She said that, as a result of this lawsuit, the association has recently changed its rules to include bisexual and transgender people.

No comments: