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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."

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  1. 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...

    Posted by: Drew | Jun 24, 2010 11:45:45 AM

  2. 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.

    Posted by: anon | Jun 24, 2010 12:03:28 PM

  3. 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.

    Posted by: charley | Jun 24, 2010 3:11:56 PM

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

    Posted by: bisty | Jun 24, 2010 6:28:36 PM

  5. 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.

    Posted by: Harry | Jun 24, 2010 9:35:50 PM

  6. 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).

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 25, 2010 4:11:07 AM

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