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During the middle years of the Clinton presidency (1995-1998), I served as a recruiter for the Marine Corps. Although the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy had been in effect for several years, everyone in my station could recite from memory the recruiting scene in the 1981 movie Stripes .

Bill Murray (John Winger) and Harold Ramis (Russell Ziskey) are enlisting in the Army and are asked what a decade later would become the Forbidden Question:

Recruiter : Now, are either of you homosexuals?
John Winger : [John and Russell look at each other] You mean, like, flaming, or . . .
Recruiter : Well, it’s a standard question we have to ask.
Russell Ziskey : No, we’re not homosexual, but we are willing to learn .
John Winger : Yeah, would they send us someplace special?

The military no longer asks that question, of course, but there is one group that does: the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance. When three players claimed to be bisexual , they were called into a conference room in front of more than twenty-five people, and “asked ‘personal and intrusive questions’ about their sexual attractions and desires, purportedly to determine if the player was heterosexual or gay, the lawsuit alleges.”
Three bisexual men are suing a national gay-athletic organization, saying they were discriminated against during the Gay Softball World Series held in the Seattle area two years ago.

The three Bay Area men say the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance in essence deemed them not gay enough to participate in the series.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle accuses the alliance of violating Washington state laws barring discrimination. The alliance organizes the annual Gay Softball World Series.

Beth Allen, the alliance’s attorney, said the lawsuit is unwarranted and that the three plaintiffs “were not discriminated against in any unlawful manner.”

In any case, Allen said, the alliance is a private organization and, as such, can determine its membership based on its goals.

Once we get past the irony and the absurdity of the situation, we’re left with the question of whether the NAGAAA should be able to exclude people from membership in their organization based on sexual orientation.

My answer: Of course they should.

While I think it is a bizarre criteria for softball, if they want to discriminate against players based on sexual activity they should be allowed to do so. Private Kick Ass (2010) groups should be able to form and gather around whatever core values or qualifications they choose; organizations for gays and lesbians have the same right to determine their membership policies for themselves as anyone else.

Hopefully, they will also respect the rights of other groups who choose, for whatever reason, to exclude them. But regardless of whether any particular interest group is consistent in their application of the principle, we should work to protect and preserve the right to free association of every American.

(Via: The Volokh Conspiracy )

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