Bisexual players and gay softball alliance settleBottom Highlights, Entertainment News Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Three men on a team disqualified from the 2008 Gay Softball World Series, because it was thought to have too many straight players, have been paid an undisclosed sum by the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance in an out of court settlement.
The team, D2, who play in San Francisco, have also been awarded the trophy denied to them when officials suspected they had more than the limit of two straight players after coming second in the tournament.
The lawsuit involved three players, Stephen Apilado, Laron Charles and John Russ, whose team was the subject of a protest based on other competitors’ belief that more than two members of the San Francisco D2 team were heterosexual, and therefore the team roster violated Rule 7.05. The three men have always maintained they are bisexual.
In April 2010, the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the legality of Rule 7.05, and asserting various discrimination and privacy claims against the NAGAAA. They asked the Court to bar NAGAAA from enforcing Rule 7.05 in any future Gay Softball World Series.
May 31, 2011, United States District Court Judge John Coughenour dismissed the claim.
Judge Coughenour later ruled in favor of the NAGAAA, and dismissed the discrimination claims. The Court found that “it is reasonable that an organization seeking to limit participation to gay athletes would require members to express whether or not they are gay athletes,” and ruled that “the First Amendment protects NAGAAA’s membership policy from Washington’s public accommodation law.” The remaining individual claims, where the men sought damages for alleged invasion of privacy and emotional distress, were set for trial in December, but the parties have now reached a settlement agreement resolving the lawsuit.
In an open letter the NAGAAA executive board stated, “It’s over! We are pleased to announce that after a series of court rulings in favor of NAGAAA, the parties have reached a final settlement in a lawsuit that had questioned the legality of NAGAAA’s rules regarding the Gay Softball World Series (GSWS). The Court has vindicated NAGAAA’s First Amendment right to determine for itself how to fulfill the organization’s mission.”
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