Bellevue tells gay softball coach and her team cannot play

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A softball coach and her team were banned from a Bellevue Baptist Church league after officials found out she was gay.

A sign near Bellevue reads "Bellevue Loves Memphis," but Jana Jacobson wondered if that statement applied to her.

"It is wholly about discrimination," Jacobson said.

Jacobson, the gay softball coach, recounted why she and her team were told by church leaders to stay away.

"We have a deviant lifestyle," Jacobson said, "and because of our deviant lifestyle, we would not be allowed to play."

Jacobson claimed she followed procedure and was initially allowed to participate in the church's softball league with two other outside teams before she admitted she was gay.

"I asked them repeatedly what it is you think you're going to do," Jacobson said.  "We're coming to play ball."

Jacobson said she was offended at first, but then simply disappointed by the church.

"It wouldn't matter if I was purple, green, or blue," Jacobson said.  "There's discrimination that is happening."

Civil rights advocate and attorney D'Army Bailey said the law may be on Bellevue's side for now.

"Federal constitutional law has not evolved to the point where it would give the same kind of protection to gay individuals as it would to an Asian, Hispanic, or black who might be subject to exclusion," Bailey said.

Bellevue's media spokesperson said the church had no plans to respond to this story at this time.

Jacobson was consulting an attorney.

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