Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Discrimination Suit Brought by Bisexual Players Against Gay Softball League

In April 2010, three bisexual softball players sued the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance after it deemed them not gay enough to play in the Gay World Series and stripped their team of its second place finish. The lawsuit accused the organization of violating Washington state anti-discrimination laws.

The Seattle Times explains: D2

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.

This week, a federal judge refused a motion from the softball league to dismiss the lawsuit. But the judge did allow the league to keep in place a rule allowing it to limit to two the number of heterosexual members on a team.

The paper adds:

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.

Bisexual Softball Players Sue After 'Gay World Series' Discrimination [tr]
NAGAAA Gay Softball League Defends Itself in Open Letter [tr]


  1. adam says

    I never cease to be amazed by gay men’s resentment to genuine bisexual men. It’s bizarre to say the least. And, yet, gay men buy the CD’s of fake bisexual women like Lady Gaga, a woman that’s held on a pedestal. I wonder if the same gay men who look up to the fake bisexual Lady Gaga would also look up to a genuine bisexual male singer.

    There is some truly bizarre dysfunctionality going on in the psyche of gay men these days.

  2. Francis says

    I’ve heard this story many times, I don’t know the full details, but on it’s face, this seems really ridiculous and basically horrible behavior by the softball league.

  3. Gregv says

    Unless there’s more to the story, it does sound totally unreasonable for the softball league to rate the “gayness” of the players. I also don’t think this attitude is in any way the norm among gay women and men.
    At the same time, the defense (that bisexuals are discriminated by not being included in the definition of “gay”) doesn’t make much sense, either.

    If I, as a gay man, wanted to join a bisexual league, I’d find it petty if they wanted to rate my level (or absence) of bisexuality. But I wouldn’t expect gay people or heterosexuals to be “included in the definition of bisexual.”

    I’ve been on gay teams before, and I was more than happy to have, in addition to gay women and men, many bisexuals and straight allies among us.

  4. AJ says

    First off, Adam???? WTF does Gaga have to do with this? How have you determined she’s a fake bisexual? And second, REALLY? I wonder how they determine if someone is “not gay enough”. Do they make the players perform sexual acts in front of them? Do they do some weird “Clockwork Orange” business with electrodes attached and show them lewd pictures of men and women and rate their responses? This is seriously something I would expect from The Onion, not actual news.

  5. Matthew says

    This is the wackiest story I’ve read all day. Even more so than the Brian Fischer video I just watched because that is just expected of him. I can’t even fathom why the idea of how “gay” someone is should determine whether or not they can play softball. These people are nut jobs who need to get a life.

  6. Peter says

    I am gay and I love and admire bisexuals. The world would be a much better place if all heteros and homos could evolve into bisexuality.

    As to this bizarre case, I don’t really follow the judge’s thinking. If the athletic league is a public accommodation, then it can’t discriminate against bisexuals and any “rule” purporting to limit the number of non-gays would be unlawful. If it is not a public accommodation, the group can do as it pleases. I don’t get how the judge can hold that it is a public accommodation but that the rule might be permissible. I also don’t get why the judge held that the group was a public accommodation as to the athletes. It may be a public accommodation as to spectators, but players are selected on an individual basis.

  7. Chadd says

    In the back story of this lawsuit, it really seemed that the coach that filed the complaint in the first place was just bitter about losing to the team in question. The league did a bad job of handling the case from the outset and the action against the league by the players seems appropriate. I would never want to be forced to stand in front of a large group of strangers and be questioned about the intimacies of my sex life – for the sole purpose of seeing whether or not I am fit to be part of a group. I can’t even imagine the humiliation these guys must have felt.

  8. Gay Softballer says

    I play in a gay softball league, and I think what the national league did was wrong. Not to defend them but it’s my understanding that they have their policy in place to try and combat two things:

    First, for whatever reason, there are straight players in the league who are fine with gays until they start losing. You’d think playing in a gay league you wouldn’t hear slurs or disparaging remarks, but sometimes the competitive spirit gets the better of people and they let a comment fly that makes people do a double take.

    Second, the league is worried about teams stacking good straight players just to win, which kind of defeats the spirit of having a gay league.

    I think what the league did was wrong. But it’s a tricky situation. I don’t think there is much the league can do about stacking good straight players without limiting the number of straight players that can play, which doesn’t seem fair to genuine allies. As for the straight players, or any player, that let’s their temper get the better of them on the field, show them the door and kick them out.

  9. intristin says

    If a softball team had their title taken away because it was later discovered that one of the team members was gay, the gay community would go nuts, call them bigots, and protest. And they would be right to do so in my opinion.

    So how is it that a gay softball league feels it’s perfectly alright to discriminate based on sexual orientation? Any group or organization that bases membership on ones sexual orientation is wrong.

  10. says

    @OHPLEASE: The Seattle Times (unlike Seattle) is fairly conservative, though not all of the reporters are.

    As for the story, it’s crazy that these guys were quizzed on their orientation—Oh, but so titillating for the panelists!

    As homos become more and more accepted, we’re going to see this issue crop up more. My rule: just say yes and be inclusive. At my organization, Rainbow Families of Puget Sound, we’re happy to have anyone join us.

  11. Paul R says

    @Gay Softballer: your second point is what bothers me about this case. The league is outwardly saying that the team needs to be primarily gay to be a gay softball team. But implicit in their rejection of straight players is the suggestion that straights are better athletes, and having them on the team provides an unfair advantage.

    And that–as much as I get tired of seeing people use this phrase–is pretty much the definition of internalized homophobia.

    @Adam: I’d be extremely surprised if you’re not Jason, Brian, or whatever other name you’re going by these days to make your bizarre views seem widely held. Your obsession with bisexuality and Gaga appear in nearly every post, so you’re not doing such a great job of hiding yourself.

  12. DC Player says

    @Paul R… Preach on, brother.

    @Gay Softballer… your second point is priceless…and laughable. How about people just stack their teams with good players, regardless of where they stick their stick? This mindset is exactly why I avoid gay leagues and prefer to be an out man in sports leagues that don’t emphasize stuff that’s irrelevant to playing the game.

    This legal case — and @Gay Softballer / people like him — are all sad examples of small thinking and why anything built on identity — sexual orientation or otherwise — won’t stand the test of time. People end up putting themselves in ghettos (real or in thought) and the ghetto eventually becomes irrelevant, if not counterproductive. Gays that stick to this “gay only” or “gay preferred” stuff only hurt our broader push for equality.

    Get rid of these leagues, dump the cheeky gay names, and just show up for a game and play… there are loads of leagues with different levels of intensity/skill, so no excuses. Game on!

  13. says

    The hypocrisy in this story is disgusting. Straight athletes have better things to do than join gay leagues just for the sake of beating “gayer” teams. They play because they are comfortable with their own sexuality and those of others, and because they enjoy the sport. Does NAGAAA really want to promote the notion that straight = better athlete? Or that we are unable to play on the same fields? Or that we need to be “protected” from too many tolerant, open minded straights? Do we, as a community, still think so little of ourselves? Go play softball and have fun, and if you lose a game don’t point fingers at the straight players, just work on your game.

  14. Gay Softballer says

    @DC Player — That’s not my argument, that is the league’s argument. I said the league took the wrong action in my very first sentence. I was simply pointing out why they would want to exclude straight players. It’s more in line with keeping the spirit of the league to feel like a gay league as opposed to a league where gays play. It’s similar to how The Boyscouts are allowed to discriminate against gays because homosexuality goes against the spirit of their institution. The league wants to keep it a “gay space.” I’m for the inclusion of straight players. I said it isn’t fair to have a limit on the number of straight people a team is allowed to have. My team is composed of 7 gay players and 6 straight players, all of which I love dearly. You have to remember though that this is a private league and private leagues make their own rules. This isn’t something new in the world of sports. Many co-ed leagues have rules such as “you must have 2 women on the field playing at any given time.” You seem to be really passionate about this issue, but saying that I’m a sad example of small thinking is neither constructive nor accurate. I was simply trying to offer some insight into the situation.

  15. I'm God says

    “Stacking” heteros on a gay team doesn’t infer that hetero men are better at sports; there are simply more of them and therefore they will be better represented in the top echelons of amateur softball, giving gay teams a wider selection possible recruits.

    As for DCPlayer, I mainly agree that gay softball leagues do nothing to progress equal rights, but gay activities are a great way to meet gay people with similar interests, which isn’t always possible in hetero-dominated everyday life.

  16. Alessandra says

    The (bisexual) 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.

    Imagine the scene above for a second. Really, imagine all these retarded, fanatical, deformed liberals sitting around, putting forth their “intelligent” questions about these guys’ “gayness” and then having a vote! A vote! LOL

    And how was the “sentence” delivered, btw?

    Snap, you *itch, you’re not gay enough to play on our Pinky Pink team?

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