Originally created 01/12/00

ACLU, baseball team settle bias dispute



HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- The American Civil Liberties Union and a minor league baseball team have settled a dispute over a promotion that cut the admission price for families who bring church bulletins to Sunday games.

The Hagerstown Suns will offer the discount also to families who bring bulletins from civic or nonprofit organizations.

In return, the ACLU and plaintiff Carl Silverman of Waynesboro, Pa., agreed Tuesday to drop a federal lawsuit and a state action challenging the promotion as illegal religious discrimination in a place of public accommodation.

"Our emphasis has always been on family values -- to get the family to do something together as a unit," said Suns owner Winston Blenckstone. "We are satisfied with the agreement we have worked out with the state and the ACLU.

ACLU attorney Michael Berman praised the Suns' new policy.

"It makes the discount available on an equal basis, without regard to the fan's beliefs about religion," he said.

The ACLU joined the case after Silverman, an agnostic activist, complained to the Maryland Commission on Human Relations that he and his family were wrongfully charged a total of $8, instead of the discounted $6 price, when they went to a Suns game without a church bulletin on Easter Sunday 1998.

The Suns are affiliated with the American League's Toronto Blue Jays.