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Is Calling Someone Gay Defamatory?

Are Ross Weil and Brett Royce gay?  Or just bosom buddies?  Weil and Royce, after all, were college roommates who moved close to each other after college.  Perhaps recognizing that they are homophobes, editors of the American University alumni newsletter "reported" that they had gotten married.  No big deal, right? 

Wrong. 

Weil and Royce (who are sharing a lawyer, and perhaps a shoulder to cry on) are suing American University for the "false, defamatory, malicious, and libelous article."  (They are each seeking $750,000 in damages.)  The complaint alleges that calling a straight person gay is libel per se

The suit is ridiculous, but it does raise certain interesting issues.  Does calling someone gay harm their reputation?  I see nothing wrong with a person being gay, so to me, it's hardly insulting to call a person a "great big homo."  Also, I won't suffer $750,000 in damages if you call me a "girl," "sissy," or "dork."  These are childish insults, and they have as much strength as a child's hands.   

Then again, if enough bigots exist such that falsely claiming someone was gay could harm their reputation, should, as a matter of policy, people be able to sue?  In some parts of the country, being gay can get you killed

Of course, the plaintiffs live (near each other) in Manhattan.  If anything, they might now find themselves as being part of a protected class - not a bad place to find yourself in a litigious society.

In any event, Weil and Royce might not be gay.  Even if they are seen with women, they are still surely  douche bags (risqué, but safe for work).

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