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Federal Judge allows gay softball league to set its own rules for participation (for now)

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.

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17 Comments

  1. Let NAGAA set its own rules.

    Agreed. And other private organizations (e.g., straight ones) should get to.

    Having said that: “NAGAA” is a fitting name for an organization that, well, nags its members about their sexuality.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — June 4, 2011 @ 1:21 pm - June 4, 2011

  2. I’m not at all in favor of the ruling. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a heterosexual team kick off gay members because the team was clearly a “butch” team. Thats because it never happens. I just think this is dividing us even further and at a time where we want to be accepted openly and for what we are, this sends a signal to the outside world that they are not welcome unless your SEXUALITY is completly attracted toward other men or women of the same sex. It should have nothing to do with it. These men were bi sexual, just not gay enough? C’mon, its an embarrassment to our community to create such a case. Strike 3 already.

    Comment by Drew — June 4, 2011 @ 1:31 pm - June 4, 2011

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  4. This is one of those places –and not the only one– where the baleful effect of non-discrimination zealotry shows up. Where does the heavy hand of governmental ethics end? Just as justice and freedom inevitably collide, so do freedom of association (the orphan value in the Bill of Rights IMHO) and equal protection under the law.

    Whatever the precise legal questions, a huge part of gay identity is to be a victim class ceaselessly seeking legal redress for its both real and imagined, substantial and trivial complaints. We have two lesbians suing a Christian photographer who did not want to shoot pix at their “wedding”, and winning. E-harmony was forced to open a parallel service for same-sex couples, by law, after a homo complained. (In Canada, the situation is even more shameful.)

    My conservative instinct is to privilege freedom of association and tell the government to back off. But on a societal and cultural level, gays have made this right, which they now assert, almost seem pathological. A “right to discriminate”. Which we all know, having had it rammed into our heads by our moral betters for the last 50 years, is a terrible thing.

    I have finally gotten to the point where I think Barry Goldwater was right to oppose the Civil Rights Act. The cure, over the long term, has far too many “emanations and penumbras” that leave us more and more in thrall to the egalitarian regulatory State.

    Comment by EssEm — June 4, 2011 @ 2:29 pm - June 4, 2011

  5. I am endlessly amused at how the gay and lesbian community is arguing that it should be exempt from the laws that it is using to force behavior on everyone else.

    Indeed, it would be interesting for conservatives to practice direct and straightforward lawfare and put some of the so-called “nondiscrimination” laws to the test — by forcing gay and lesbian-owned and operated establishments to provide “equal service” to heterosexuals and straight people.

    HRC would piss itself.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — June 4, 2011 @ 2:51 pm - June 4, 2011

  6. A private organization should be allowed to set its own rules–like the Boy Scouts, for example!

    Comment by ludovico — June 4, 2011 @ 3:57 pm - June 4, 2011

  7. Yes, like the Boy Scouts, ludovico. As per this brief.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — June 4, 2011 @ 3:58 pm - June 4, 2011

  8. So long as all organizations are treated the same, I can’t object to this. Biphobia is even more annoying the homophobia, but so long as the gay left isn’t forcing Boy Scouts to change it would be hypocritical to expect special treatment for us bisexuals. That sort of thing destroys integration, it doesn’t further it.

    Comment by joeedh — June 4, 2011 @ 4:27 pm - June 4, 2011

  9. Still, I hope the media covers this in depth. The media’s blindness to minority-on-minority mistreatment is so annoying.

    Comment by joeedh — June 4, 2011 @ 4:29 pm - June 4, 2011

  10. kinda related. . .Boston Red Sox joined the SF Giants and Chicago Cubs all have made It Gets Better videos. . .

    Comment by rusty — June 4, 2011 @ 5:52 pm - June 4, 2011

  11. The operative phrasing is “compelling state interest.” The Federal Government (since this case was at that level) has no interest in ensuring that heterosexuals may or may not be permitted to play a sport by NAGAAA. As it should be.

    It is not “chilling” for the judge to uphold NAGAAA’s adherence to public accommodation laws. NAGAAA is a 501(c)3 organization: ipso facto it does receive “state money,” as you put it. If this organization doesn’t want to abide by the very public IRS Code, then it shouldn’t take the tax credits and assume the public benefits required by its preferred tax status.

    NAGAAA is certainly an example of Groucho Marx’s old quip, I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.

    Comment by Bryan — June 4, 2011 @ 10:37 pm - June 4, 2011

  12. I’m not at all in favor of the ruling.

    It isn’t a matter of whether you like the group or not, or even what they did, it’s a constitutional right being upheld – one that we ALL enjoy. If this is truly a private group that does not receive public funds than I’m definitely all in favor of the ruling.

    I just think this is dividing us even further and at a time where we want to be accepted openly and for what we are, this sends a signal to the outside world that they are not welcome unless your SEXUALITY is completly attracted toward other men or women of the same sex. It should have nothing to do with it. These men were bi sexual, just not gay enough? C’mon, its an embarrassment to our community to create such a case. Strike 3 already.

    Agreed. The group may have a constitutionally-guaranteed right to discriminate against bisexuals, which I will defend, but that doesn’t mean I agree with their behavior. In fact I find it to be repugnant and would encourage either a “takeover” from within to fire the current leadership and change the rules or a complete boycott of the organization.

    Comment by JohnAGJ — June 5, 2011 @ 8:49 am - June 5, 2011

  13. The group does have its right to make its own rules, and the three bisexual dudes have the right to call the people who kicked them out nasty names.

    Seriously. It’s just softball. WTF.

    Comment by Nick — June 5, 2011 @ 11:16 am - June 5, 2011

  14. Im very much in favor of the freedom of association. That said, I REALLY hope some activists will sue to prevent the Gay Softball League from using ANY city, county or state ball fields/property as long as they continue to discriminate as the gay left did to the Boy Scouts.

    Payback is a bitch.

    Comment by American Elephant — June 6, 2011 @ 12:45 am - June 6, 2011

  15. kinda related. . .Boston Red Sox joined the SF Giants and Chicago Cubs all have made It Gets Better videos. . .

    Kinda related, but stupid.

    Comment by TGC — June 6, 2011 @ 5:22 am - June 6, 2011

  16. Im very much in favor of the freedom of association.

    Indeed, but it’s worth noting (and underlining 3 times) when gay liberals demand “equality”, but haven’t the slightest bit of interest in extending it.

    Comment by TGC — June 6, 2011 @ 5:23 am - June 6, 2011

  17. by forcing gay and lesbian-owned and operated establishments to provide “equal service” to heterosexuals and straight people.

    NDT, I’m not sure what you mean by this. Other than private clubs (like this softball league apparently), I’m not aware of any gay/lesbian owned and operated establishments that don’t provide equal service. All the gay/lesbian businesses I have ever been in have been welcoming of all. Do you have examples?

    (And I ask that in all seriousness, not to be combative. I’ve really never seen this.)

    Comment by Neptune — June 6, 2011 @ 12:00 pm - June 6, 2011

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