WATCH YOUR MOUTH

Appeals Court Rejects Slander Case: “Being Gay Is Neither Bad Nor Shameful”

A litigant hoping to push a slander lawsuit against a woman who called him gay is going home empty-handed today: The New York Appeals Court has just ruled that calling someone gay or bisexual is no more an insult than calling them a redhead or Irish.

Three years ago, Mark Yonaty sued Jean Mincolla for slander because during an argument she claimed he was gay. Initially, Mincolla’s motion to have the case dismissed was rejected by the courts but she appealed to the New York’s Appellate Court.  In January, Empire State Pride Agenda and Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief  that argued viewing sexual orientation as a basis for defamation was at odds with how the state recognizes the rights of gays and lesbians.

Today the courts agreed.

“At its core, defamation is about disgrace. Recognition of this defamation claim would demean gay men and lesbians by giving credence to anti-gay biases that New York has repeatedly rejected,” stated Thomas W. Ude, Jr., Senior Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal.  “Saying that someone is gay is not an insult. Being identified as gay is neither bad nor shameful—not in our society, and not under the law.”