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Magazine Features in this issue:
Switzerland's Capital Cool
Prop 8 trial set to resume in mid-June
Gays speak out against Arizona
A league of their own?
Not just a riot
Northern Latitudes
An about-face over Don't Ask¸ Don't Tell?
 Magazine Feature Features Archive  
June 2010 Email this to a friend
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A league of their own?

By Joseph Erbentraut

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Alleging discrimination against three bisexual softball players, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed a lawsuit against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association (NAGAAA), seeking more than $225,000 in damages.
The suit argues the plaintiffs -- Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ, all players for San Francisco's D2 team -- faced hostility and discrimination when their team qualified for the championship game of the 2008 Gay Softball World Series in Seattle.
In response to another team's challenge, NAGAAA officials allegedly questioned whether the three players were in violation of a tournament rule capping heterosexual players at two per team.
The committee reportedly asked "intrusive questions" to eventually determine the plaintiffs to be "non-gay," refusing to acknowledge their claims of bisexuality and voiding D2's second-place finish in the -tournament.
Helen Carroll, director of the NCLR Sports Project, argues the NAGAAA's treatment of the men was illegal under Washington state law, which prohibits against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public accommodations. She feels the group's policy further reinforces the stereotype that straight players are inherently stronger than gay athletes.
Carroll noted that the Gay Games and other gay sports events welcome everyone to compete, regardless of their sexual orientation.
"It's time for everyone to be fair and say out loud that bisexual people are welcome to participate in the LGBT and sports communities," Carroll told Guide magazine.
In response to the suit, NAGAAA issued an open letter defending its policy and denying any wrongdoing. The group claims the lawsuit threatens its existence.
The open letter says the organization is "dedicated to providing a safe environment for gays and lesbians." Because it lacks a "pool of talented lawyers," it cannot compete against the "destructive path" taken by the NCLR.
But Carroll contends that the NCLR has repeatedly attempted to settle the case outside of courts.
"We can't discriminate against our very own," she said. "This lawsuit is a test of the strength and character of our movement to acknowledge discrimination and not to sweep it under the table."

Author Profile:  Joseph Erbentraut

Joseph Erbentraut is a Wisconsin-born freelance writer and editor currently living in Chicago. His articles on politics, music and culture have been featured in the Village Voice and other publications. He also blogs at Chicagoist.

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