Three bisexual men from the San Francisco area have filed a lawsuit claiming they were discriminated against during the Gay Softball World Series in the Seattle area two years ago.
The Seattle Times reports that the men filed the case Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle against the softball tournament's organizer, the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance. It alleges that after another team complained, the alliance ruled the three men were "nongay," and took away the team's second-place finish.
Beth Allen, the alliance's attorney, told the newspaper the lawsuit is unwarranted and that the three plaintiffs "were not discriminated against in any unlawful manner." She said the alliance is a private organization and can determine its membership based on its goals.
The lawsuit contends the tournament is a "public accommodation" that is open to the public and uses public softball fields.
Apilado, Charles and Russ played on a team called D2 that qualified for the 2008 Gay Softball World Series. Alliance rules say that each World Series team can have no more than two heterosexual players.
The lawsuit said that after another team complained, each of the three men was called into a conference room in front of more than 25 people and asked "personal and intrusive questions" about his sexual attractions and desires, purportedly to determine if he was heterosexual or gay. The suit says the alliance ruled the three men were "nongay," stripped D2 of its second-place finish and recommended the three players be suspended from participating in the World Series for a year.
The men are asking for $75,000 each for emotional distress. They also want to invalidate the alliance's findings on their sexual orientations, reinstate D2's second-place finish, and end an alliance rule limiting the number of straight players on each team.
"This case is just about treating everybody in the community equally ... and not interrogating folks about whether they're gay enough to play," said Melanie Rowen, an attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is representing the three men. Rowen said the alliance has no category or definition for bisexual or transgender people in its rules.