Bigot Boy Scouts Sue Philadelphia Over Rent Increase

You may remember back in December I posted that the Boy Scouts would be evicted on June 1st from the Philadelphia building they’ve been renting for $1 a year since 1928 because the city is forcing them to abide by its non-discrimination policies and the Boy Scouts continue to refuse to open up their membership to gays.

ScoutsWell, the Scouts aren’t having it and they’ve filed a lawsuit against the city to avoid paying the $200,000-a-year rent the city will soon begin charging them to occupy the landmark property:

“The federal suit filed Friday accuses the city of censorship for targeting the Scouts but maintaining free or nominal leases with other groups that limit membership, such as Baptist and Roman Catholic church groups and The Colonial Dames of America. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts, as a private group, have a First Amendment right to bar gays. But the policy has had consequences, with municipalities, charities and donors withholding support. ‘We will not allow discrimination in providing services on city property,’ Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said Tuesday. A 1982 city ordinance bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and other grounds. ‘We’re not punishing them for not admitting homosexuals,’ City Solicitor Shelley Smith said. ‘But they can’t get free rent and violate our policy.’ Smith said the city was unaware of any discrimination by other groups with city-subsidized space, but that it would investigate any complaints.”

Philadelphia Boy Scouts Evicted Over Anti-Gay Bigotry [tr]


  1. John in Manhattan says

    Join the Girl Scouts. They don’t discriminate and the cookies are delicious.

  2. Rad says

    Well, HEY there! The Roman Catholic Church would LOVE to have boy scouts! Perhaps that church group could sponsor them?

  3. JJ says

    The boy scouts are provided with public space at free and subsidized rates throughout the country. The few cases where they’ve been called to account are the tip of the iceberg.

    They should not receive this public largesse and its about time they were charged for their “private” status.

    I don’t think public officials perceive going after the boy scouts as smart politics, but its the right thing to do in light of the Supreme Court decision.

  4. Mike B. says

    “The federal suit filed Friday accuses the city of censorship for targeting the Scouts but maintaining free or nominal leases with other groups that limit membership.”

    This may be the Scouts’ strongest argument. I don’t know if Philadelphia can afford to piss off the Baptists and the Catholics.

    Also, I think the Scouts make a good point: why are they being held to a standard that others, who also are exclusive, do not?

    The best outcome would be if the Catholics, Baptists, and the Colonial Dames all had their leases subject to exlusionary scrutiny. I also love the idea that discrimination has a financial cost.

  5. Derrick from Philly says


    God bless ’em! I couldn’tna’ made it in the Scouts. The shorts weren’t high enough for me….toot toot, heeey–beep beep.

  6. Jason says

    I would be for restoring their $1 a year lease as long as they were to co-lease with another organization the the Sisters Of Perpetual Mercy.

  7. Originally from Phila. says

    GO PHILLY!! Living up to the name “The City of Brotherly Love”.

  8. anon says

    Very unclear area of the law. Would make a great court case. I doubt it’ll get that far. They should have just sub-let from another “free” organization that took over their space, but instead chose to sue, which indicates they are more interested in winning than in saving money.

  9. John in Philly says

    I think it is great that the City of Philadelphia is gettin national attention for doing something that is the correct thing to do. The New Jersey Supreme Court had the case correctly decided that the Boy Scouts are not a truly private organization. But since that decision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Boy Scouts cannot have it both ways. They should pay the City the reasonable rate of rent like any other private group should, or they should pull out of the building. Their lawsuit makes no sense at all.

  10. Leonard says

    Wow, Go Nutter!

    I’m glad that Michael Nutter is actually a mayor I can be proud of. I admit that I expected him to be just like Street, but of course Street would be to busy waiting in line for an iPhone to issue a statement against discrimination against sexual minorities.

  11. John says

    They just don’t give up the dead horse, do they?

    The Boy Scouts have already tried this argument with the California Supreme Court.

    After 60 years of rent free berthing at the local marina, the City of Berkeley demanded that the Sea Scouts (a group affiliated with the BSA) pay rent. The Boy Scouts decided to filed a lawsuit against the city for violating their “constitutional right to free association” because other non-discriminatory organizations – including the Girl Scouts – were still entitled to free berthing.

    In a 7-0 decision, the CSC concluded that:

    “Cities can require recipients of public money to provide written, unambiguous assurances of compliances with a generally applicable nondiscrimination policy…Berkeley reasonably concluded the Sea Scouts did not and could not provide satisfactory assurances because of their required adherence to (the Boy Scouts’) discriminatory policies.”

    (Evans v City of Berkeley, 2006)

  12. Ted says

    As a former boy scout and parent of one, I am very uncomfortable with their discriminaotry policies. Indeed I have reservations about my son’s participation in scouts for that reason.

    I think the scouts provide some very important lessons for young boys and want the organization to continue to succeed. I do however think the Philly mayor has done the right thing and I would like to see continued pressure on the scouts until they cave in. My hope is the next generation of ex-scouts who are gay will step up that campaign.

  13. Mick says

    I find it interesting that the same people that will cast brickbats at the Scouts, without even knowing the facts, will then accuse others of acting through bigotry and ignorance. For the record: while it is true that the Scouts have been renting the land space in question for $1/yr since 1925, it’s also true that they actually built, and own, the actual building, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning that they are now being asked to walk away from a multi-million dollar investment, with no compensation. Further, as socially-conscious as we might all like to be, the fact of the matter, is that the actual written lease agreement grants the property at that rental rate “in perpetuity” – meaning that the City is breaking a legal contract and obligation. We don’t do that in this country – at least, those of us who believe in fair play and honesty don’t. On the other hand, if we can break this agreement, then how about all of those pesky old treaty agreements with the Native Americans? I mean, it’s not like they still need all that land for hunting and fishing; and gosh, we’re so much more sophisticated and worldly then those quaint old folks that signed those agreements back then – we know so much more now, that it’s OK to break agreements, because we believe that serves a higher moral authority.
    People who break their word are immoral; people who encourage others to break their word are immoral. Therefore all the City of Philadelphia is doing, is showing that the Scouts must be right, when they claim that homosexuality is immoral, since it appears that the ability to keep one’s word, is a concept that escapes the Philadelphia gay community. The gay “community” has been around for a few decades; the Scouts for 100 years. It’ll be interesting to see, 100 years from now, which ones are remembered!
    ‘Nuff Said!