Boy Scouts, Anti-Gay Discrimination, and Free Rent at Center of Trial Beginning Today in Philadelphia

Jury selection is underway at a U.S. District Court trial involving the Boy Scouts of America and the City of Philadelphia, the Inquirer reports:

Scouts "At issue is not whether the Cradle of Liberty Council can discriminate. A landmark 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000 said the Boy Scouts is a 'membership organization' and can exclude gay youths and troop leaders.

But Philadelphia's City Charter says otherwise, and after years of negotiations the city decided in 2006 that the Cradle Council's refusal to explicitly reject the national scout policy violated the local rules.

So the scouts were ordered to vacate the 80-year-old headquarters they had occupied rent-free, or else pay $200,000 a year to lease the building from the Fairmount Park Commission. It is one of two offices operated by the council, which runs scout troops in the city and Delaware and Montgomery Counties.

The scouts contend the city's move is an unconstitutional 'coercion' that violates the organization's rights to free speech and equal protection. The city leases land to other institutions with membership rules, including a Catholic church, and those groups do not face eviction, the scouts say. The city says the comparison is inaccurate.

A jury will decide, and both sides are sparring over how to screen the jury pool."

Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter, who in 2009 issued an injunction banning the scouts from being evicted before the trial began, will oversee the trial.


  1. SFshawn says

    This same exact issue went through the court system in San Diego county in the early 90’s. What a waste of time and resources to repeat it when decisions have already been ruled.

  2. Rodney says

    This should be a clear cut decision. The group’s right to free speech has not been infringed upon (they can still run around expressing their virulent homophobia and draping it in patriotism) and the city has the right to choose whom they would allow to lease a building rent-free. Right?

  3. Jonathan says

    The Boy Scouts are entirely correct. The Catholic Church should be evicted from city property as well.

  4. RONTEX says

    Poor babies, it hurts when they don’t get their way and may have to play nice with everyone : )

  5. SammySeattle says

    “The city leases land to other institutions with membership rules, including a Catholic church.” The comparison would be innacurate if the Catholic Church is paying rent. The point is that the city should not subsidize descrimination.

  6. D.B. says

    Based on precedent set in other states, it seems unlikely that the Boy Scouts will prevail in this suit. But it’s very telling that their national organization is willing to spend so much money on what is likely to be a futile effort. The Scouts could have easily purchased their own building with legal costs accrued so far.

  7. Steve says

    Any institution can discriminate against any group it wants to.

    They just can’t expect the government to subsidize that discriminatory behavior.

  8. Joe says

    We are very lucky here in the UK: the scouts march at pride every year, and even though its a Cristian organisation, they are still very welcoming to everyone.

    We even have a dedicated department for supporting GLBT scouts at HQ, which is great.

  9. TANK says

    yes, joe…that sounds very progressive for an organization founded by a filthy pederast.

  10. Bob says

    I think a large percentage of scouts identify or will identify as gay. What message does the Scout law and oath with its emphasis on honesty and character give to these boys when they know they would be shunned if they confessed about who they are. Very sad, and the organization should find a way to deal with this.

    I strongly believe that if the Mormons could find a way to admit blacks to the LDS church, as they have, Boy Scouts USA can find a way to be inclusive and affirming towards gays.

    I guess one big problem is that too many Morman adults are in leadership positions in the scouts.

    As regards preferential rents for Scouts, I think its against the principle that a private organization that contracts with the government must adhere to the gov’ts anti-discrimination policies. Often local govts especially don’t enforce this. They should. Of course pushing these issues is dicey with the current Supreme Court makeup but if not us, who? and if not now, when?

  11. kansastock says

    Almost every gay guy that was in scouts had his first same sex happytime in a pup tent. They certainly have that part of training young men down right.

    Wish I would have paid attention to the knot tying part. Little did I know they were teaching me skills for happytimes in my future.

  12. Rodney says

    I was in the Scouts, but (unhappily) never had sex in the pup tent. Though, I did receive a lot of extra attention from one particular scout master.

    Maybe it’s because I was 4’9″ and 89 pounds when I was 14.

  13. hinbww says

    I was a Scout Master in the 70s and watch the boys swim in a river with nothing on and wishing I was there age. I knew I would have had a lot of fun and sex with them. But I never let them know I was gay and if anyone touched them I would have killed that person that did touch them.