Homosexual athletes vow comeback over ban on 'Olympics' term


SAN FRANCISCO -- Angry leaders of the Gay Olympics charged the Supreme Court with 'homophobic bias' for banning the group's use of the term Olympics, and vowed a Congressional battle to change the law.

The high court ruled 7-2 Thursday that under an act of Congress the term Olympics belongs to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which has denied use of the term to the San Francisco-based homosexual athletes' group.


'This is not a ruling based on the law ... but is the homophobic bias of five members of the court,' said attorney Mary Dunlap, who argued the case before the high court.

'I have only one thing to say to the U.S. Supreme Court -- Gay Olympics, Gay Olympics, Gay Olympics. No law can prevent me from using a word,' she said.

The group pledged to lobby Congress to change the 1978 Sports Act, which gave the word 'Olympic' trademark status.

Dunlap's group was supported by newly-elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said she was 'deeply disappointed' by the decision.

'My office is now assessing the possibility of a legislative solution,' she said.

Ever since the U.S. Olympic Committee protested the gay group's use of the term Olympics, the games have been called the 'Gay Games' while the group battled in the courts.


'Why are gay people the only people who cannot use the word?' said Dr. Tom Waddell, a former Olympian who founded the games in 1981, noting there are also the Junior Olympics and the Special Olympics, for the handicapped.

'The Supreme Court has only sullied the meaning of the First Amendment. We still have the political arena,' he said.

Waddell was a sixth place finisher in the 1968 decathlon competition at the Mexico City Olympics. He did not attend a news conference by the group because he is seriously ill with AIDS.

The justices ruled that the 1978 law gave the word 'Olympic' trademark status, allowing the U.S. Olympic Committee exclusive control of the word in business fund raising and athletic competition.

But the court split sharply, 5-4, over whether the Olympic Committee enforced its trademark discriminatorily. The majority found that the Olympic Committee did not discriminate in challenging use of the 'Gay Olympics' by the homosexual group while allowing other groups, such as police and the handicapped to use the word.

The group's attorney said she is optimistic about the court changing its stance in future rulings on homosexual rights.

'I am still optimistic. The court is a political institution and it will change. We will move forward,' Dunlap said.


'Where did the government get possession of a common English word? Did the Greeks give it to them?' she said.

Dunlap said she also will fight a $90,000 lien placed on Waddell's home by the Olympic Committee to cover attorney fees in the case. She called the lien 'punishment.'

The next Gay Games are scheduled for August 1990 in Vancouver, Canada, organizer Larry Sheehan said.

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