Sunday, August 16, 2009

Judge Rules: Saying Someone is Gay is No Longer Libelous

(From Yahoo News)

"NEW YORK (Reuters) – A companion of late Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith can sue an author for defamation but not over gay sex claims because homosexuality is no longer viewed as contemptible, a U.S. judge said on Wednesday.

Howard K. Stern is suing Rita Cosby and the Hachette Book Group over Cosby's bestseller "Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death."

Stern is the former lawyer and boyfriend of Smith, the Playboy playmate and Guess jeans model who died in 2007 from an accidental prescription drug overdose.

Stern claimed the book, which was published six months after Smith's death, contained 19 libelous statements, including that he had engaged in oral sex at a Los Angeles party with Larry Birkhead, the father of Smith's child, and that Smith had later called Stern gay.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin ruled the defamation case could proceed on 11 of the statements.

Chin dismissed Stern's claims that statements implying he was homosexual were defamatory, although he acknowledged that gays and lesbians still suffered prejudice.

"I respectfully disagree that the existence of this continued prejudice leads to the conclusion that there is a widespread view of gays and lesbians as contemptible and disgraceful," the judge said."

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