Jury: Philadelphia Can’t Evict Boy Scouts for Anti-Gay Policies

The Boy Scouts of America can discriminate against gays despite the fact that it goes against the city's anti-discrimination laws, and still lease its building for free, a jury has ruled:

Scouts "A federal jury Wednesday decided that Philadelphia violated the Boy Scouts' First Amendment rights by using the organization's anti-gay policy as a reason to evict them from their city-owned offices near Logan Square.

'We can't be kicked out of the building or evicted and we don't have to pay any rent,' Scouts' attorney William M. McSwain said after the unanimous verdict by a jury of six women and two men.

Scouts lawyers expect U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter to issue a permanent injunction that bars the Scouts' eviction because of their policy – set by the national organization – that homosexuals cannot be scouts or troop leaders.

That's not necessarily the end of the dispute, however.

The jury's answers to the 11 questions on the verdict sheet were 'inconsistent,' City Solicitor Shelley Smith said, and when verdict sheets have inconsistent answers, the potential exists that the verdict is flawed. 'We will be exploring our options.'

In an unusual address to the jury, Buckwalter said he hopes the Council and the city can reach a final negotiated solution.

The Scouts are willing to negotiate and would like to end the nearly seven-year standoff, said Jason Gosselin, the lead attorney for the scouts.

"We want to sit down with the city and see if we can resolve this" permanently, Gosselin said."


  1. Jonathan says

    I am heartened to know that there is a First Amendment right to free rent. I will inform my landlord immediately.

  2. MLD says

    lets just get it over with and theocracize. we can funnel all federal money into religion, we can make megachurches the courts, and give all the bible thumpers badges.

  3. TANK says

    This a violation of the constitution and a step closer to dominionism. This must be appealed and overturned.

  4. Mike says

    This is a bit bizarre. My understanding is that the lease says the city can evict for ANY reason. That being the case, they should just say, buh bye. It is ridiculous to say that the scouts are entitled to free rent. For that matter, the taxpayer shouldn’t be forced to subsidize rent for private organizations. Kick them out!

  5. patrick nyc says

    Yea it’s much better keeping the gay scout leaders in the closet and under the radar, just like the catholic church, works so well for them.

  6. sal says

    well thankfully i learned something i didn’t know and from now on i will look at the scouts in a different light and im sure allot of people who had no clue about their policies will boycott this hate group from now on

  7. Boxerdad says

    Can someone please explain why this case was presented to a jury? The last thing we need is to have matters surrounding gay issues decided by a popularity contest.

  8. hey says

    I bet the case would have turned out differently if the jury had not known the name of the organization or the group that they were discriminating against.

  9. Leonard says

    The case was presented before a jury, because there were fears that as a former Boy Scout, the judge would be impartial.

    “The Scouts are willing to negotiate and would like to end the nearly seven-year standoff, said Jason Gosselin, the lead attorney for the scouts. “We want to sit down with the city and see if we can resolve this” permanently, Gosselin said.”

    So why are the scouts going to force the city to pay for their legal fees? I hope my city fights them tooth and nail.

    Why should the government subsidize discrimination?

  10. Fahd says

    Well a jury acquitted O.J. IMHO the City is legally obligated to not subsidize the Boy Scouts’ discrimination and so must keep pursuing the matter until the Scouts agree to leave or are forced out.

    Where do the Scouts get all their money for legal fees?

  11. says

    The founder of the Boy Scouts, Arthur Baden-Powell, was a pedophile. Therefore it’s no suprise that the orgs’ attitude towards gays is exactly like that of the Catholic Church.

  12. Ted says

    I am a former boy scout and I can attest to the tremendous good the organization did for me. But I believe they must end any religious affiliation and their discrimination of gays. No negotiating. No don’t ask don’t tell.

  13. ricky says

    No matter the outcome – anything that shows the boy scouts for what they really are is a good thing. Yes, they want to settle – they do not want their free rents and other taxpayer subsidies to be revealed to the general public as millions of American taxpayers are out of work and may well soon be homeless – let the boy scouts continue to not only demand free rent – but clog up the courts with their lack of dignity and simple human decency – counting — as racists in the south did so many years ago – on America’s incessant need for ignorance and hate as endorsed by the government — let the scouts show America and the world who they really are – and who they have never been. Let their lack of honor and decency be the badges they have surely earned.

  14. Zlick says

    Just playing devil’s advocate for a moment, and I have no idea if this is what the case turned on, but the particular boyscout chapter that violated the city charter was acting under orders from a national organization that the city has no jurisdiction over. My guess would be that the boy scouts cannot possibly comply with local laws, and thus are immune from them.

  15. says

    I think this scenario would have a very different outcome if the Boy Scouts were to discriminate against African Americans or Jewish people from their group. Correct?

  16. says

    It’s very hard to convict in these kinds of cases. Just like with cops, juries trust the uniform and don’t want to see them as in the wrong.

    I say, grow up people!

  17. says

    Under no circumstances should the Boy Scouts be allowed back on that property. The City should bulldoze it and turn it into a parking lot, if that’s what it took. F them.

  18. Disgusted American says

    as a SNJ-Phila resident – I don’t LIKE my TAx money going to organizations that Blatatntly discriminate…what about Tax payers rights?

  19. Drew says

    Can they legally discriminate against African-Americans and Muslims? Serious question; if they can’t, then this seems to be rooted in the ‘you CHOOSE to be gay’ theory, I suppose. Hmm…

  20. anon says

    The ruling states that the city had no reasonable cause to break or change the terms of the rental agreement, which was like for 100 years. The original agreement, made at a time when the Scouts were seen only in a good light and therefore very favorable to them, will stand for now. Of course, the Boy Scouts are still more popular than Gays, but if people knew the organization was now basically an arm of the Mormon Church and Southern Baptists in cahoots and governed according to their ideas of what a club should be then they might change their minds.

  21. charley says

    How does this get to be a jury question? There is no question of fact- purely a legal question for the judge. This should be reversed on appeal.

  22. bisty says

    The judge was a former boy scout, so it was assumed he could not render an impartial verdict.

  23. Harry says

    I was born in Philadelphia and have been following this story. This is a travisty of justice. They can have freedom of speech elsewhere. If i was the mayor I would sell the building out from under them.

  24. Randy says

    Philadelphia should quite simply evict everyone from that location, on a permanent basis, or perhaps sell it.

    The city is not required to be a participant in discrimination just because some arrogant groups wants special treatment (and free rent is pretty special).