Communities of people united by its members common ideas, values, or goals can still include a great range of thoughts, opinions and affiliations, such as religion, sexual orientation, or political party affiliation to name but a few.  The new gTLDs may be a powerful tool for communities, a web “location” that has previously not existed.  However, given the heterogeneity of all communities, these gTLDs are bound to bring up some conflict.

Last week an arbitration panel rejected a community objection against an application for the .GAY new gTLD filed by Dotgay LLC. The objection was filed by an organization called the Metroplex Republicans of Texas, which asserted that it has been in existence for 30 years and represents a significant portion of the conservative LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and sexually questioning) population.

Metroplex objected to the application largely claiming that the .GAY extension would be confused with the Metroplex conservative LGBTQ agenda, and that the string would likely be run by liberals who would use the extension to exclude and discriminate against the conservative LGBTQ community.

Putting the merits of Metroplex’s arguments aside, the panel found that it simply did not have standing to make an objection, explaining that although the conservative LGBTQ community is a “statistical category” of people, it is not a community in and of itself:

“[b]ut while the conservative segment, with which Metroplex claims association, is a segment of the clearly delineated gay community, it is not a clearly delineated community in and of itself. That some LGBTQ people hold conservative political views and vote for conservative candidates may bring them into a statistical category, but does not make them connect, gather, interact, or do anything else together that would constitute a community, or, that would make them publicly visible as one.”

Although the panel noted that a successful community objection does not require an “entire” community to object, it reasoned that Metroplex’s constituents were not a defined “community”:

“[b]ased on its own submissions, Metroplex does not have an ongoing relationship with the wider LGBTQ community; it does not reach out to it, and does not participate in its mechanisms to organize, act, lead, or speak out. Affiliation with six other state and local conservative gay groups does not constitute an ongoing relationship with the wider LGBTQ community; it is not even a substantive relationship within the conservative segment that in and of itself is not a clearly delineated community.”

In the near future ICC panels will have to make decisions on a number of other controversial extensions that received community objections. This decision may well be used as precedent or support by panels on the issue of “standing” for strings like .ISLAM, .KOSHER, .LGBT, .REPUBLICAN and the remaining .GAY objections.  The decisions in these cases will be closely watched by the involved parties and perhaps the mainstream press, and it would not be surprising to see panels emphasize (where applicable) the issue of standing as a way of avoiding the individual (and less tangible) merits of a case and thereby avoid controversial claims or issues...