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Calling A Straight Person Gay Is Not Slander, Says New York Court

GayIsOkayA straight New York man last year filed a slander suit against a woman who called him gay, claiming the false description damaged his very heterosexual relationship.

Though a Broome County court originally let the case go through, a judge today tossed the suit because "tremendous evolution" has changed social ideas of LGBT people.

From the Wall Street Journal:

A mid-level appeals court in New York says it's no longer slander to falsely call someone gay.

The court says that although falsely calling someone gay or lesbian has for decades been grounds for slander, that's no longer the case because being gay is no longer seen by society as negative.

The court says a "tremendous evolution of social attitudes" and rights afforded to gays prompted the decision that overrules previous rulings.

Let this be a lesson to people who freak out over being called gay - times have changed.

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Comments

  1. Excellent.

    Something off topic: How do I turn off the "recommend/Social Reading is Off" popup in the bottom right corner on this page? This is new thing and it is very, very annoying.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | May 31, 2012 2:19:22 PM


  2. Good question! I have three or four of those social reading panels piled-up on top of each other in the lower right hand corner of my screen.

    Posted by: MIleHighJoe | May 31, 2012 2:36:49 PM


  3. Right F******* On!

    Posted by: Eye For Guys | May 31, 2012 2:47:01 PM


  4. Somehow, I appreciate this more than the DOMA ruling.

    Posted by: Zlick | May 31, 2012 3:03:35 PM


  5. "...that's no longer the case because being gay is no longer seen by society as negative."

    I love it! The judge seems to be compartmentalizing churches - at least those that still carry their Bronze Age mindset - from the rest of Society.

    It's about time we started treating churches the way they treat the rest of us. As my father used to say... "You wanna cry? I'll give you something to cry about!"

    Boy! They're gonna be crying now!!

    Posted by: MikeInSanJose | May 31, 2012 3:05:27 PM


  6. For the social reading panels I block them with AdBlock (Firefox).

    Posted by: oakpope | May 31, 2012 3:11:44 PM


  7. Ha!

    Posted by: Alan | May 31, 2012 3:33:25 PM


  8. HooRAY! Chalk one up for us! Way to go New York!

    Posted by: OS2Guy | May 31, 2012 3:40:19 PM


  9. These ruling puzzle me. It's slanderous to call someone something they object to being called, seems to me. In some circles, it's slanderous to be called a Jew, for example. Mind you, I wouldn't want to hang in those circles, but they do exist and people are harmed by false accusations like that or like being called gay when they're not.

    Posted by: BobN | May 31, 2012 3:43:24 PM


  10. If someone "called me heterosexual," it couldn't possibly have any effect on my relationship with my partner.
    For this to cause damage to how they relate to each other, the couple in question has got to be complete simpletons. It makes me think of when a kindergartner complains to an adult something like: "George called me a Big Bird fan instead of an Elmo fan, and now Johnny won't be my friend."

    Posted by: Gregv | May 31, 2012 3:54:37 PM


  11. Without doing any research myself, I should hope the case was about defamation and not slander. As far as I know, it wasn't a crime to be gay last year in NY. It's a bit of a surprise ruling, since the standard for defamation is so low.

    Posted by: anon | May 31, 2012 5:49:52 PM


  12. Without doing any research myself, I should hope the case was about defamation and not slander. As far as I know, it wasn't a crime to be gay last year in NY. It's a bit of a surprise ruling, since the standard for defamation is so low.

    Posted by: anon | May 31, 2012 5:49:58 PM


  13. @Bobn - The decision is being widely misreported. The court found that calling someone wasn't slander per se. In tort law, a slander action usually requires showing that the plaintiff suffered monetary damages as a result of the slander. However some satatements are deemed so noxious that they constitute slander per se. In these cases there is no need for the plaintiff to demonstrate monetary damages because the damages are presumed based on the odiousness of the statement.

    The court held calling someone gay was no longer such a social stigma that it constitutes slander per se, but if a plaintiff could demonstrate monetary damages resulting from the statement, then there would still be grounds for a slander suit.

    Posted by: boywonder3919 | May 31, 2012 5:54:56 PM


  14. I think this decision is well intended, but I am not entirely sure I agree with the premise that falsely calling someone gay could NEVER hurt them. I am sure there are plenty of people in families or job situations where it could be very damaging, and those people deserve to be compensated for the harm that these accusations cause them.

    Posted by: Q | May 31, 2012 9:52:03 PM


  15. Interesting.... has the LBGT community really been granted equal rights? Did I miss something or has the US Constitution been amended to include "sexual preference or gender identity" as protected classes from discrimination, which would allow same sex marriages across the USA? I would like to believe public opinion has evolved but look at recent events in North Carolina and the vile comments from the pastor in Kansas....they certainly make one question the judges assesement of our nation's culture and people.

    Posted by: dmoody2 | Jun 1, 2012 11:48:49 AM


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