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Playing Hardball on Softball

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Traditional organizations like the Boy Scouts of America have long been under siege by atheists and pro-gay lobbyists who insist they shouldn't have the freedom of association to maintain their God-fearing identity. But you think that's maddening? How about the ultimate cultural flip-flop of a gay softball league going to federal court to insist that bisexual or heterosexual players can't play ball with them?

In Seattle, Reagan-appointed U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ruled that a group called the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance has a First Amendment right to limit the number of bisexual or heterosexual players.

"It would be difficult for NAGAAA to effectively emphasize a vision of the gay lifestyle rooted in athleticism, competition and sportsmanship if it were prohibited from maintaining a gay identity," the judge wrote.

In other words, the gay left now can have it both ways. They can force "anti-discrimination" rules on everybody else, but they don't have to follow them.

The gay softball alliance oversees gay softball leagues in dozens of U.S. cities and runs an annual tournament called the Gay Softball World Series. Three men claimed in a lawsuit filed last year that their team's second-place finish in the 2008 tournament in Washington state was nullified because officials ruled they were bisexual, not utterly gay, and thus their team exceeded the limit of two non-gay players.

D2, the San Francisco-based team the men played on, was disqualified after others at the tournament questioned their sexuality and filed a protest. Rumors had persisted for years about whether D2 was stacking its team with "straight ringers." In addition to the three plaintiffs, the team had two designated straight players.

Isn't it strange that gay activists would cheer the inclusion of openly gay athletes in professional sports, with all the pride they can muster in their talents, but insist in federal court on throwing out "straight ringers" -- all but admitting gay athletes can't compete with them on the field?

At least the judge said one fraction of the plaintiffs' case can proceed toward a trial set for August 1 -- over the sexual interrogation these three players faced. They were marched one by one into a conference room at the tournament in suburban Seattle in front of about 25 people and asked about their "private sexual attractions and desires." The gay softball alliance argued that under questioning, the men -- Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles and Jon Russ, all African-Americans -- were somehow not forthcoming enough about their sex lives.

Minutes of this interrogation revealed that Charles claimed to be gay but acknowledged being married to a woman. (Curses!) And Apilado initially said he was both gay and straight but then acknowledged being more attracted to women. (Gross!)

The organization says it has always considered bisexuals to meet the definition of "gay" for roster purposes, but the minutes also note that one official involved in the decision to disqualify D2 insisted that "this is not a bisexual world series. This is a gay world series."

In a statement, Charles, who was also D2's manager, complained, "When you play softball, you never expect for anyone to corner you and ask you personal questions about who you are and what you do. It was emotional for me as a coach to go in there and not only get grilled, but watch my team be put in this situation."

According to Charles, people inside the hearing room were texting private information to people outside while the questioning was taking place.

"When I came out of the hearing room, people I didn't even know were making comments about my marriage and other things we said in the hearing," he said.

In court documents, the gay softball alliance insisted this kind of "protective discrimination" is not unique: the Black American Softball Association allows just four "non-black" players per team and demands birth certificates as proof of race; the Native American World Series has a cap of two non-Indian softball players per team and requires players to carry "Indian identification"; and the SMASH Softball Tournament for Asian/Pacific Islanders allows only three non-Asian players and requires "proof of ethnicity."

The three players are being represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which sued a gay organization for the first time to stay consistent with their typical opposition to groups like the Boy Scouts having their own private exclusions. The gay-softball league is a "public accommodation," they argued, and cannot discriminate on sexual orientation.

OK, so let's launch the White American Irish-Catholic Heterosexual League. It will have a two-gay limit per team and any transgression will be disqualified as "too gay." Oh, and no Jews, no blacks and certainly no Methodists. (A couple of Anglicans, maybe.)

See how crazy we've all gone?

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