Last night, via this blog’s Facebook page, a reader alerted me to an article sure to cheer (momentarily) the hearts of all freedom-loving Americans: a federal judge has ruled that a gay softball league can set its own standards for participation.
“It is not,” U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour wrote in his ruling, “the role of the courts to scrutinize the content of an organization’s chosen expression.” Nor should it be.
Three bisexual men filed a lawsuit in Washington state against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association (NAGAA) after they had been kicked off the team for not being gay enough. Now, when I initially blogged about this suit last April, I called NAGAA’s rule limiting the number of heterosexual players “stupid” and found it “disgusting that a gay organization would not just countenance, but also conduct a public interrogation into individuals’ private lives.” (It did so to find out if they were gay enough.)
That said, it’s a private organization and private organizations should be allowed to set their own rules. Allowing it to do so, the judge
. . refused to enjoin enforcement of the two-player rule. “Plaintiffs have failed to argue that there is a compelling state interest in allowing heterosexuals to play gay softball,” Coughenour wrote.
“NAGAAA might very well believe that given the history of gay exclusion for sports, the only way to promote competition for all persons, and ensure that gay athletes have the same opportunities as straight athletes, is to create an exclusively gay community with exceptions for a small number of straight players,” the ruling states.
The ruling wasn’t entirely rosy though. “Coughenour also ruled that the athletic association failed to prove it should not be subjected to public-accommodation laws as ‘a distinctly private organization.” So, now we’ve got a federal judge determining such matters. That is a truly chilling thought. Shouldn’t the simple question be whether or not the group takes state money.
Let NAGAA set its own rules. Indeed, let all private athletic associations do the same. If a group of gay guys want to play softball with a group consisting primarily of their fellow gays, then more power to them. It’s their choice. Isn’t this land of the free? And isn’t that what freedom means?
UPDATE: John Yoo gets it:
In my opinion, the judge’s ruling that the Gay Softball World Series is entitled to have whomever they want play in their league is correct. This is merely the other side of the coin of the cases involving the Irish parade in Boston and the Boy Scouts. In these cases, gays sued to be included in the parade and as scoutmasters in the Boy Scouts. The Supreme Court, however, found that the right of association and of speech on the part of the groups allowed them to choose to include or exclude members as they wished. If the government was doing the excluding, that would be a different matter. But if private groups want to discriminate, for good or ill, that is up to them — we have a constitutional right, the Court says, to associate with whom we want.
The Court’s ruling makes eminent sense to me. We enter into private groups because of some shared interest or affinity. If groups were forced by the state to admit everyone, they would lose their essential character and there would be little point to forming them.
Via Best of the Web.