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Moment #78: National gay softball group sued over its limits on straight players

Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.

Softball, 2010: The 2008 Gay Softball World Series was not initially noteworthy, but the lawsuit filed in April 2010 from an incident in that event made national news. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, representing three players from a San Francisco team, filed suit after that team was disqualified, accused of breaking the rule on having only two straight players per team.

The rule had been in place to prevent teams from stacking their roster with straight players, but the lawsuit against the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association argued that the three men were humiliated by the intense questioning they faced about their sexual orientation.

In June 2011, a federal judge in Washington state upheld the straight limits set by NAGAA, but also allowed the suit to go to trial. NAGAA has now modified its rule to allow for bisexuals and transgendered players to not count any more as non-gay and will leave it up to each player to self-declare their sexual orientation.

The issue has caused a spirited debate about whether limits on straight players in gay-oriented sports tournaments are still necessary. I still see a need for such a rule for once-a-year national gay tournaments (the Gay Bowl I play in has a 20% straight "guideline"), but know of no local league that has any limits.

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