Philadelphia Boy Scouts Evicted For Their Anti-Gay Stance

Negotiations between Philadelphia Boy Scouts and the city government have ended; the Scouts are being evicted.

For three years the Philadelphia council of the Boy Scouts of America held its ground. It resisted the city’s request to change its discriminatory policy toward gay people despite threats that if it did not do so, the city would evict the group from a municipal building where the Scouts have resided practically rent free since 1928.

Hailed as the birthplace of the Boy Scouts, the Beaux Arts building is the seat of the seventh-largest chapter of the organization and the first of the more than 300 council service centers built by the Scouts around the country over the past century.

Municipal officials drew the line at the Beaux Arts building because the city owns the half-acre of land where the building stands. The Boy Scouts erected the ornate building and since 1928 have leased the land from the city for a token sum of $1 a year. City officials said the market value for renting the building was about $200,000 a year, and they invited the Boy Scouts to remain as full-paying tenants.

Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for the local chapter, said it could not afford $200,000 a year in rent, and that such a price would require it to cut summer-camp funds for 800 needy children. [...]

So they’re saying that if a group does some sort of good, they should be exempt from anti-discrimination law? “Well, it’s true we fired all the Jews, but we also built a home for stray cats, so we should be exempt from the law!”

I’m sorry for the decent scouts and boys this hurts, but the city did the right thing, and dealt the Scouts an important symbolic loss. It’s right that the Scouts suffer some consequences for their decision to support bigotry. The Scouts will be much better off in a few decades, when enough of the yahoos currently running the organization have died that their homophobic policies can be removed.

I’m not sure if discrimination against atheists was also at issue in this conflict.

(I previously posted about this conflict in August of 2006.)

This entry posted in Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

356 Responses to Philadelphia Boy Scouts Evicted For Their Anti-Gay Stance

  1. 301
    nobody.really says:

    That’s the moderator hat, so stop.

    Wow, a talking hat – this is better than Hogwarts!

    One guy’s 2 cents: I suspect that in the interest of promoting Pres. Bush’s comfort, he has been shielded from facts that he might have found disquieting. And I fear the world has suffered as a consequence. I don’t want to emulate the President, even if it means I must confront some unpleasant facts.

    Thus, as a general matter I value hearing what people think. I may feel discomfort that Jo holds a given world view, and the occasion of my discomfort may be when I learn that Jo holds a given view. But ultimately it is the FACT of Jo’s view, not the EXPRESSION of that fact, that causes me discomfort. So if you’ve got some bad news for me, let’s get it out in the open.

    With due deference to the moderators, of course. (Not that there’s anything wrong with moderation; it’s a perfectly valid lifestyle choice….)

    With that wind-up – and to the extent that we can discuss it within the bounds of moderation – I am curious about Robert’s views here.

    I analogized homosexuality (a morally objectionable behavior) to theft (a morally objectionable behavior)….

    I don’t think Amp wants his blog turned into a “let’s talk about why homosexual behavior is disordered behavior” site. The arguments are out there and are easy to find; look up the Catholic catechism if you want the basics.

    1. Is homosexuality a behavior? I understood the Roman Catholic perspective to find no fault with homosexuality per se, but rather with sex outside of (Church-sanctioned) marriage. Consistent with aroundthebend213′s remarks, I was not aware that the Church found fault with an abstaining homosexual, any more than it would find fault with an abstaining alcoholic. And this, I believe, puts the Roman Catholic Church in conflict with the BSA, which regards the STATUS of homosexuality as objectionable, regardless of conduct. Am I mistaken here?

    2. Does the term “disordered” have a positive meaning – a test or standard by which to determine which things are “ordered” and “disordered” without reference to an authority figure? Or is it just a normative term, roughly equal to “bad”?

  2. 302
    aroundthebend213 says:

    in this case, it means “against natural law,” natural law being the complimentary union of man and woman, with natural sex being that which is “open” rather than “closed” to producing life, as near as i can figure, but I am sure the actual Catholics around her have more clarity and education on the matter.

  3. 303
    Mandolin says:

    “So if you’ve got some bad news for me, let’s get it out in the open.”

    It’s been out in the open, in this and other threads. This is not the place for more of Robert’s hate speech. Take it to an open thread, or stop totally.

  4. 304
    Bjartmarr says:

    I was looking for something rational to explain adhering to that,

    Nope, nothing rational about it. “Gays are icky because I choose to believe that they are icky.” Nevermind all that stuff Jesus said about not being a dick; it’s much more fun to concentrate on a few obscure lines here and there to justify dickishness.

  5. 305
    Myca says:

    Robert, might I suggest as an alternative, if you must compare homosexuality to something, compare it to something else your faith finds immoral . . . but something that is legally permissible.

    Like so:

    “I don’t see anything wrong with The Boy Scouts forbidding the participation of scoutmasters who have had divorces, for I consider divorce immoral.”

    or

    “I don’t see anything wrong with The Boy Scouts forbidding the participation of all people who have lent or borrowed money on interest, since Jesus preached extensively against usury.”

    or, more directly:

    “I don’t see anything wrong with people who are not of my faith being punished for not subscribing to the mandates of my faith.”

    I just think that that would help to make your position a little more clear.

    :-)

    —Myca

  6. 306
    Joe says:

    I wasn’t going to post on this (mod said no) but I think Myca’s ideas are perfect. All of them (except the last one) are *excellent* analogies to being gay.

  7. 307
    FurryCatHerder says:

    around writes:

    in this case, it means “against natural law,” natural law being the complimentary union of man and woman, with natural sex being that which is “open” rather than “closed” to producing life, as near as i can figure, but I am sure the actual Catholics around her have more clarity and education on the matter.

    Most sex is “closed” to the potential of creating human life, if only because the more successful one is at creating human life the less sex actually has the potential to create still more human life.

    Try another lame excuse for being a putz.

  8. 308
    aroundthebend213 says:

    Just to be clear, I wasn’t defending that logic, merely describing it.

  9. 309
    mythago says:

    No one I know involved in running camping activities has a good word to say about having openly gay kids in the mix.

    That’s kind of a self-selecting group, isn’t it? If my son turned out to be openly gay, I sure as shit wouldn’t be wasting my time running BSA activities.

    On the actual topic, STILL waiting for someone to point to a provision of the agreement that forbids the city from doing what it did.

  10. 310
    RonF says:

    That’s kind of a self-selecting group, isn’t it? If my son turned out to be openly gay, I sure as shit wouldn’t be wasting my time running BSA activities.

    Not necessarily. The set “people involved in running BSA camping activities” includes plenty of people who don’t have kids in the program at all and never have.

  11. 311
    lori says:

    The set “people involved in running BSA camping activities” includes plenty of people who don’t have kids in the program at all and never have.

    I wonder how many members of P-FLAG it includes.

  12. 312
    Robert says:

    If people believe that a gay-straight integrated youth service (or a male-female integrated youth service, or an atheist-theist integrated youth service) would be superior, then they are free to create one. The Scouts did not descend from Mt. Sinai as a gift from Jehovah, they were created by the boring hard work of men and women over a century.

    If you believe that an organization which does not discriminate in the ways the Scouts discriminate would be a superior organization, then proving that proposition is perfectly tenable: create the superior organization, and watch it crush in the marketplace of ideas. The demand for healthy activities for young people is enormous, and you’d have the huge advantage of being aligned properly with the values of most of the governments that are currently having all these issues with the Scouts.

    In fact, I hear there’s a great headquarters building coming available.

  13. 313
    aroundthebend213 says:

    the main argument people are making about scouting and discrimination is not that ending discrimination would make BSA better, though it would, but that BSA’s discrimination against gays in unjust and harmful. While it would be great to see a gender and sexuality inclusive scouting movement, it wouldn’t mitigate BSA’s policies in the slightest.

  14. 314
    Myca says:

    Yeah . . .it’s not as if the only way to ‘earn the right’ to criticize this is through founding your own youth group.

    I mean, jeez, “You think slavery is so bad, huh? Well, why don’t you run a plantation without it and show everyone what a big mister smarty-pants you are. Come on, big shot, put your money where your mouth is!”

    Gimmie a break.

    —Myca

  15. 315
    Robert says:

    While it would be great to see a gender and sexuality inclusive scouting movement, it wouldn’t mitigate BSA’s policies in the slightest.

    While it would be great to see a democratic and peaceful German government, that wouldn’t mitigate the Nazis in the slightest.

    Except, of course, by replacing them.

    BSA is getting a job done for millions of people. If that job can/should be done better, then fine – let’s see that happen. There is money on the table, there are resources available, there is a burning need for the services being provided – if this can’t be made to work in the way you think it ought to work, then tearing down the people doing a (flawed) job of it isn’t all that compelling a case.

    And if it can be made to work, then the way to demonstrate that is to demonstrate it. Either BSA will be forced by the superior alternative to change, or the superior alternative will displace and then replace BSA.

  16. 316
    aroundthebend213 says:

    Alternatively, the superiority of an alternative non-discriminatory policy could be tested by a change in BSA policy, a strategy which is actually more analogous to your strange German example than starting a new organization with the intent of replacing BSA is.

  17. 317
    Robert says:

    The people with the beliefs don’t hold them on a whim. It makes much more sense for someone with different beliefs to start a parallel organization, than it does to mandate a change in the beliefs of third parties. “I am sure I am right, therefore, you change.” versus “I am sure I am right, therefore, I will show you.”

  18. 318
    RonF says:

    aroundthebend213:

    the main argument people are making about scouting and discrimination is not that ending discrimination would make BSA better, though it would, but that BSA’s discrimination against gays in unjust and harmful.

    That’s the argument that some people are making. Other people disagree. And there is no general consensus that this is actually true, at least in the context of youth programs of the kind that the BSA promotes.

    Alternatively, the superiority of an alternative non-discriminatory policy could be tested by a change in BSA policy,

    Sure. No problem. Just get some parents to sign up and say “we’ll be glad to let you experiment with our kids.”

    Myca, no one is saying that you have to create your own youth group in order to gain the right to criticize another. The First Amendment covers that. But going forward from that, I’d say that in trying to do so you’d come up against a couple of my points. One is that discrimination on the basis of race and discrimination on the basis of sexual behavior are two entirely different things and parents especially will approach them as such. The other is that I truly believe that you’ll find – at the expense of some young people and their parents – that your theories and desires regarding how young people should interact under such conditions fail in the face of reality.

  19. 319
    mythago says:

    Not necessarily. The set “people involved in running BSA camping activities” includes plenty of people who don’t have kids in the program at all and never have.

    How likely is it to include people who do have children (or young relatives) who would be excluded from BSA?

    Still waiting for you to explain why the city acted in breach of its agreement.

  20. 320
    Robert says:

    Mythago, the Scouts aren’t arguing (from what I can tell) that the city acted in breach of its agreement. From what I can see, the city is within its contractual rights.

    Instead, the Scouts are arguing that the 2000 ruling in Dale trumps the city’s statutory power, and that as a private organization the Scouts have an affirmative right to expressive association that a lower legislative body cannot override. I have no opinion about the merits of this claim, it’s out of my pay grade.

    The Scouts also argue that the city is selectively enforcing its ordinance, and that numerous other bodies which violate the city’s non-discrimination ordinance are not being evicted. Again I don’t know about the law, but as a matter of common sense, if this is claim is true it would seem to undermine the city’s position drastically. “We absolutely cannot tolerate discrimination” is one thing, “we absolutely cannot tolerate discrimination…except for his and hers and theirs, but certainly not yours” is quite another.

    Regardless of the merits, neither of these claims depends in any way upon the city not being within its contractual rights to terminate their deal with the Scouts.

  21. 321
    nobody.really says:

    The Scouts did not descend from Mt. Sinai as a gift from Jehovah, they were created by the boring hard work of men and women over a century….

    Hear, hear! I favor freedom of association. After all, moderators on this web site feel perfectly free to exclude people at will. Occasionally people gripe about it, but ultimately it’s up to the moderator. Don’t like it? Start your own website.

    Heck, I’ll even go so far as to argue that it was unconstitutional for the IRS to withhold tax-exempt status from Bob Jones University. Bigots are entitled to the same freedom of association as anyone else, and government should not discriminate on that basis.

    But just as I think government should not discriminate against bigots, I think government should not discriminate in favor of bigots. And here’s the rub: Whether or not Scouts descended from Mt. Sinai as a gift from God, they most certainly have been lifted up to their current status on the public dole. Next time you’re flipping through the US Code, check out

    – 5 USC § 301;
    – 7 USC § 7630;
    – 10 USC §§ 722, 2554, 2606, 4682, 7541, 9682 (authorizing every branch of the military to subsidize the BSA);
    – 14 USC § 641;
    – 16 USC §§ 539f, 6231;
    – 20 USC §§ 1681 (barring discrimination in educational programs getting federal funds, but granting an exception for you-know-who), 7261b, 7905;
    – 32 USC § 508;
    – 33 USC § 752b (giving BSA title to abandoned light houses)(repealed);
    – 36 USC § 10101 (exempting BSA from annual audits expected of federally-chartered corporations), 309 (federal charter), 40731 (providing for loaning guns – no kidding!); and
    – 42 USC § 5309.

    And I haven’t even peeked at the federal regulations, state statutes, state regulations, privileged access to public schools, public parks, public parades, etc. The public subsidies are not insubstantial.

    It’s a free country: let bigots be bigots. But let’em do it with equal protection of the law — nothing more, nothing less. No special prohibitions. No special exemptions.

    And no special rental agreements.

  22. 322
    Ampersand says:

    Robert, I’m confident that anti-gay bigotry is an inferior organizing principal for any organization, because it’s based in irrational thinking. Over the course of the next half-century, the BSA will either improve or be replaced by other organizations. But that doesn’t make it wrong for us to critique the BSA in the meantime.

    Ron wrote:

    The last thing I want to have to do is to call up Mom and Dad and tell them that their kid got stabbed because he made a mistake as to how receptive his tentmate was going to be towards his advances.

    This sounds more like a post hoc rationalization than anything else.

    Suppose that tomorrow, it were proven beyond any possible doubt that no one will get stabbed as a result of allowing gay kids to be Scouts (I know it’s not possible to prove that, but for the sake of the argument let’s pretend it is). Do you really believe that the BSA leadership would then reverse their anti-gay policies, or do you think they’d find some other pretext for them?

    Ron, let me ask you: Can you point me to even one example of a gay camper getting stabbed in SpiralScouts? How about in the Navigators? Any stabbings in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America? National 4-H Council? CampFire Boys and Girls? Has there been a rash of anti-gay stabbings in the Jewish Community Centers? Because all of those organizations run Scout-like activities — including, in some cases, camping — and none of them has a “no gays allowed” policy.

    One is that discrimination on the basis of race and discrimination on the basis of sexual behavior are two entirely different things and parents especially will approach them as such.

    I know many parents who’d strongly disagree with you on that, Ron. And with each new generation, fewer and fewer people of any kind — including parents — will agree with you.

    The other is that I truly believe that you’ll find – at the expense of some young people and their parents – that your theories and desires regarding how young people should interact under such conditions fail in the face of reality.

    Plenty of youth organizations don’t discriminate against gay youth and yet haven’t had stabbings. I think it’s your theory, not Mythago’s, that fails the reality test.

  23. 323
    Robert says:

    SpiralScouts? How about in the Navigators? Any stabbings in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America? National 4-H Council? CampFire Boys and Girls? Has there been a rash of anti-gay stabbings in the Jewish Community Centers?

    Do any of those organizations put teenage youth in proximity with knives and axes? If they don’t, then the test is meaningless.

    I know many parents who’d strongly disagree with you on that, Ron. And with each new generation, fewer and fewer people of any kind — including parents — will agree with you.

    History doesn’t favor this interpretation. There have been many cultures where homosexual behavior has become destigmatized or normalized, and generally the pattern has been that this lasts for a generation or two and then there is a reversion to a less tolerant norm. Rome went through two or three cycles like that. In addition, the one world culture (ours) that shows open tolerance for homosexual activity is not winning the demographic trendline. It’s possible, though unlikely in my view, that in 2100 AD there will be more Americans who believe as you do. It is unlikely bordering on impossible that the balance of opinion will shift in that direction among humans.

  24. 324
    Mandolin says:

    “History doesn’t favor this interpretation. There have been many cultures where homosexual behavior has become destigmatized or normalized, and generally the pattern has been that this lasts for a generation or two and then there is a reversion to a less tolerant norm. Rome went through two or three cycles like that. In addition, the one world culture (ours) that shows open tolerance for homosexual activity is not winning the demographic trendline. It’s possible, though unlikely in my view, that in 2100 AD there will be more Americans who believe as ”

    Good. God. Damn. This is so fucking wrong. I don’t know what amazingly idiotic source you’re getting this from, but IT HAS NO ANTHROPOLOGICAL VERACITY. It’s just a pure, 100% proof, straight-up shot of WRONG.

    I’ve called you on this lie before on this blog. You’re not welcome in this thread anymore.

    If I’m being generous, then I’ll say you should read about world cultures before making assinine and transparently false comments about what “all” cultures do or do not believe. However, I see no particular reason to be generous — as I’ve said, you’ve been called on this lie before on this blog, and I’m much more inclined to see your glib condensation of “humans” with “people represented in whatever cultures I as a westerner feel it’s necessary to know about” as part of a pattern.

  25. 325
    W.B. Reeves says:

    What is the point of arguing with people who are impervious to facts? You knock down one specious argument and they simply move on to another or, if they’re backed into a corner, they figuratively stick their fingers in their ears while whining “I can’t heeeaar you.”

    The argument about preventing violence is probably the most morally and intellectually corrupt one put forward thus far. It is virtually indistinguishable from arguments advanced in the past to justify both de jure and de facto racial segregation. Further, it represents a craven, not to mention cowardly, abdication of any pretense to moral leadership. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who would buy into this sort of “‘reasoning” isn’t fit to mentor on questions of character.

  26. 326
    mythago says:

    W.B., the point is to convince others. People who may be ambivalent see that your argument is correct, and that your opponents are not intellectually honest; people who agree with you learn better arguments to strengthen their position.

    And yes, if I am not mistaken, “we can’t protect them” was an argument used against integration of the armed forces.

  27. 327
    W.B. Reeves says:

    Fair enough Mythago. I have little tolerance for intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy on my best days and after reading through the 300 plus entries on this thread I’m afraid I let my disgust get the better of me.

    The potential violence argument wasn’t limited to the military. It was deployed to defend the entire structure of Jim Crow Apartheid in the south, from public schools to public accomodations. Instances of lynching, burning and mutilation by mobs were cited as justification for keeping non-whites in “their” place for “their own good”. This provided the bonus of allowing advocates of viciously racist policies to pose as “friends of the colored man” having only black folks “best interests” at heart. Yet another telling parallel.

  28. 328
    mythago says:

    Right. But the armed forces are a particularly close example to RonF’s arguments – soldiers, after all, are heavily armed. (The corollary argument is used against permitting women to serve in the armed forces, because They Might Get Raped.)

  29. 329
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Robert spewed:

    Do any of those organizations put teenage youth in proximity with knives and axes? If they don’t, then the test is meaningless.

    That’s sort of a requirement for “camping”. It’s only the BSA that has this “Totin’ Chit” idiocy.

    Now, if you’d like a better example, my martial arts class went camping last November. The kids there all had varying degrees of access to lethal weaponry and no anti-gay policy to keep them all “safe”. Somehow no one got killed. And other than me (compound bow string hit my elbow — giant bruise that lasted for weeks), no injuries.

    Perhaps the problem with the BSA is a lack of discipline? That would certainly agree with my experience of the BSA. A bunch of kids, all taught how to beat the cr@p out of other people, somehow managed to co-exist without actually beating the cr@p out of anyone else who might have been a little too swishy. Do you have an explanation for how that can possibly be?

  30. 330
    lori says:

    One is that discrimination on the basis of race and discrimination on the basis of sexual behavior are two entirely different things and parents especially will approach them as such.

    Another problem is the sleight of hand that changes “orientation” to “behavior.” Including gay boys does not mean that they will not be able to abide by restrictions on sexual behavior while doing scout related activities. And it does not mean that the organization cannot say to all scouts that responding with violence to someone who is in no way threatening you with violence is wrong. Period.

    Oh, and by the way, I was a 4-Her and grew up on a farm. I attended one mixed gender overnight sports camp, and it included fishing (knives!), as well as skiing, snow-shoeing, etc. I just did a quick google and found out that, for just $150, Ohio 4-Hers, male and female, can attend a “Shooting Education Camp” from July 25-27. Pistols, muzzle-loaders, rifles, along with fishing, etc.

    And I want to underline nobody.really’s point that the Scouts receive a lot of federal subsidies and perks. Frankly, I think BSA should also welcome girls; in too many places, the GSA are just a cookie- and magazine-selling organization where girls occasionally glue glitter onto paper plates.

  31. 331
    mythago says:

    FCH, I don’t think the Boy Scouts are as murderous and undisciplined as RonF makes them out to be.

    And agree on the Girl Scouts thing. I know that they are trying to get more of an athletic, outdoors program going, but I was very put off by my oldest kid’s experience. It was a lot of arts and crafts. When my spouse was in BSA, at her age, they were out in the woods learning to use a compass and how to safely light fires.

  32. 332
    RonF says:

    Boy Scouts to remain in low-rent Philly HQ

    After deliberating for about seven hours, a federal jury found yesterday that the city violated the local Boy Scouts’ First Amendment rights by demanding that they repudiate the national organization’s ban on gay membership or face eviction from their Center City headquarters.

    The city contended at trial that Cradle had to abide by the city’s anti-discrimination laws if it wanted to retain the lease.

    “We expect to get an injunction from the court,” said [the Cradle of Liberty Council's] attorney Jason P. Gosselin. “We’ve asked for a permanent injunction from trying to evict the Scouts because of the city’s opposition to the leadership policy.”

    That means that Cradle likely will maintain its cheap lease.

    Gosselin said Cradle would also be seeking a court order to compel the city to pay at least $800,000 in legal fees and expenses to Cradle.

    Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said in an e-mail that the city was “disappointed that the jury did not appreciate the city’s obligation to deploy municipal resources in a manner that protects the rights of all of Philadelphia’s citizens.”

    Oliver said city lawyers would review the trial record to determine what legal options it has.

    The jury’s verdict came after a seven-day trial and more than two years of legal jousting in federal district court.

    Cradle filed its civil-rights lawsuit in May 2008, shortly before the city went to Common Pleas Court in an attempt to evict Cradle from its headquarters.

    Last year, U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter prevented the city from pursuing the eviction until the federal lawsuit was resolved.

  33. 333
    Ampersand says:

    Well, that’s disappointing, but thanks for the update.

    In the long run, I’m confident that the Scouts will either stop being bigoted or become even more irrelevant than they already are. But in the short run, unless this is reversed in appeal, they’ve certainly won a battle.

  34. 334
    RonF says:

    I don’t see that the BSA’s current membership policies have made them irrelevant. Their impact in urban areas has been affected somewhat, but I think the explosion of youth sports has been a much bigger factor in affecting their membership. Last night on the Chicago NBC TV outlet, one of their news stories was about a young man who used his training in Scouts to save his mother’s life. The fact that he’d gained his training in the Scouting program was mentioned by both the newscaster in the lead-in and the Scout himself during the interview attached to the story. They thought it was very relevant. You can’t buy publicity like that.

    I figure that their membership policies in this regard will eventually change. My objections to changing it now are practical rather than moral, so if/when it becomes practical to do so I won’t object. It’ll be a while, though. As I’ve said before, they will end up following, not leading, on this issue.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the city appeals. It’s not like they have a lot of money to throw around, and it’ll be expensive. I can’t speculate on the odds for them to succeed.

  35. 335
    mythago says:

    Their impact in urban areas has been affected somewhat, but I think the explosion of youth sports has been a much bigger factor in affecting their membership.

    There’s a lot of other, less savory publicity which I’m guessing might affect their membership.

  36. 336
    RonF says:

    Tell you what, mythago – it seems plain to me that at least in some cases some people in National Council and some local councils were aware of child molesters and did not fulfill their duty to help protect society from them. I was reluctant to believe it, but it appears true. And it’s shameful.

    What the BSA’s legal obligations were varies from case to case. But it seems clear that in some cases at least the BSA failed to meet it’s moral obligations.

    I say the Scout Oath and Scout Law once a week. Once every 3 months at a Court of Honor we have one of the Scouts read an explanation of each point as we recite it. Every so often I sit with a Scout at a Scoutmaster’s Conference and discuss with him what he thinks some of these things mean. Maybe the professionals – the vast majority of whom are very decent and dedicated people, some of the finest people I have met – should do the same.

  37. 337
    Schala says:

    AFAIK, the “rectify your discriminatory policy or pay normal prices” option would never have been presented in Canada, and shouldn’t have been presented in Philly either.

    Just reclaim the land. They don’t even have to give a single reason for it (though it would be bad PR), but yeah the agreement as far as I’ve heard about it in this thread’s 300+ comments, mentions that it’s like renting-per-month, either you or the leaser can stop doing it at anytime, with only 1 month warning, and for any reason at all (even no reason).They instead had a 1 year warning time, but the agreement specified nothing that had to be ‘breeched’ for them to change their mind. They could change their mind for no reason at all.

    I also find the 1st amendment argument specious. The right of free speech and press…not the right to exclude people.

  38. 338
    Schala says:

    The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the largest private youth organizations in the United States, has policies which prohibit atheists and agnostics from membership in its Scouting program, and prohibit “avowed” homosexuals from leadership roles in its Scouting program as directly violating its fundamental principles and tenets. BSA has denied or revoked membership status or leadership positions of youths and adults for violation of these foundational principles.

    from wikipedia

    I didn’t know they also rejected agnostics.

    I’m not atheist, I’m agnostic, yet I didn’t think any policy would specifically target me, especially considering the amount of non-practicing people of various denominations of Christianity. Meh, I can always pass for Catholic I guess, if I must. But I never need to now.

  39. 339
    Schala says:

    I read on 1st amendment rights. Apparently the SC of the US derived the right of freedom of association (which is not in the 1st amendment) from the freedom of speech…and somehow decided that private orgs could discriminate for particular reasons (whatever they want, especially if religious orgs)…but not race.

    The freedom of association exists inherently (not derived or anything) in the Canadian Charters of Righta and Liberties. It does allow religious institutions (churches, maybe private schools) to discriminate, and allows women’s shelters to only consider women for shelter and volunteering and employment. That’s about it.

    I doubt it would fly at any level if a non-religious non-women’s shelter org, made for general population (ie not a small specific group like recent immigrants) tried to discriminate against more or less anything, even sex, let alone faith (or lack thereof) or sexual orientation.

    I’m baffled they arrived at such different conclusions to the same premiss.

    Pretty sure the right to association meant you could participate in manifestations and request a redress to the government without unwarranted arrest (for being anti-government, not for vandalism, which is valid to arrest). Not that it meant you could discriminate against groups of people for basically no reason pertaining to the purpose of the group.

    And yeah I’m not all that hyped about religious orgs being exempted there in Canada either, or women-only orgs being fine while men-only orgs aren’t (imo they should all be co-ed unless the purpose specifically merits segregation, women’s shelters do, single-sex clubs rarely do).

  40. 340
    Thene says:

    Schala, here’s the text of the US’s First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    So, yes, it’s in the First Amendment. Not sure how the right to peaceably assemble equates to the right to low rent for homophobes, but hey.

  41. 341
    Myca says:

    I’m not sure the right of assembly is the same thing as the right of association in the way it’s come to be meant.

    I mean, the right of assembly is the right to get together with like minded folks. The right of association is the right to exclude non-like minded folks. To put it in terms of free speech, for example, it’s the difference between having the right to say what you like and having the right to only hear what you like.

    —Myca

  42. 342
    Schala says:

    Now that I think about it, Colombus Knights and Free Masons only allow men within their rank. CK have a women-only organization, but AFAIK, Free Masons don’t. I also doubt it’s a reasonable part of their mandate to be single-sex. (in Canada)

    Scouts here are co-ed, or girls-only. Which I find just as problematic as boys only.

    Co-ed orgs are more accepting in practice (at least its much easier to accomodate) of varied sexuality and varied gender presentation (ie better for trans people all over the spectrum).

    I didn’t go into scouts ever, but if I had, bet I couldn’t have been part of the girl-only org, but might have been able to reach some agreement to be considered female within the co-ed org, as a trans woman. All in all, I avoided one massive headache by not having to confront it at all.

  43. 343
    Elliot says:

    As a former scout, I would like to state that the BSA does not nessecarily speak for us. They represent a minority of old, white, homophobic men who happen to be in control right now. Troops rarely come into direct contact with them, and I knew more than a few troops with openly gay scouts, and one with an openly gay adult member. My troop possessed neither of these, but there was a general gnashing of teeth whenever the old bastards who represent us fucked some poor person over on the basis of their sexuality.

  44. 344
    RonF says:

    Schala, @338:

    I didn’t know they also rejected agnostics.

    I’ve never seen an official statement from the BSA regarding agnosticism. I’m also unaware of any actual case. I have been told that if one is asked “Describe your Duty to God” and one answers “I’m not sure what it is” the statement is not held to disqualify one from rank or office. My guess is that that statement in Wikipedia is conjecture, not fact.

  45. 345
    mythago says:

    Here in Bluestateistan, the scoutmasters I’ve talked to take the approach that unless a scout says “I’m a complete atheist and religion is stupid” that there’s no problem – it’s possible to be agnostic, or to at least believe that religion and spirituality are positive forces.

    Of course, there are troops that go the other way. When Mr. Mythago was a lad growing up in a small Midwestern town, it was made very plain that anyone seeking to become an Eagle Scout had darn well better be loud and proud about having accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

  46. 346
    nobody.really says:

    Schala, here’s the text of the US’s First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    So, yes, it’s in the First Amendment. Not sure how the right to peaceably assemble equates to the right to low rent for homophobes, but hey.

    Funny you should ask….

  47. 347
    Simple Truth says:

    @Ron:

    ● Employment
    With respect to positions limited to professional Scouters or, because of their close relationship to the mission of Scouting, positions limited to registered members of the Boy Scouts of America, acceptance of the Declaration of Religious Principle, the Scout Oath, and the Scout Law is required. Accordingly, in the exercise of their constitutional right to bring the values of Scouting to youth members, the Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals, or others as professional Scouters or in other capacities in which such employment would tend to interfere with the mission of reinforcing the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law in young people.

    This is from BSALegal.org, a site that claims to be on behalf of the National Council. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it seems to be endorsed by the BSA. The scouting site itself was pretty vague, which was surprising. I figured they would at least let you know if you couldn’t join.

    BSALegal.org

  48. 348
    Schala says:

    AFAIK, the anti-discrimination side sending orgs to courts, who manages to lose the case, usually do so by a small margin. Apparently the same when won.

    No consensus seems to exist as to what is legal jurisprudence in this. Though a consensus as to what is right does exist, it won’t float in court, not in itself.

  49. 349
    RonF says:

    So, then the title of this thread is false. The Boy Scouts were never evicted.

  50. 350
    RonF says:

    Hm. A new development.

    1) The BSA has still not been evicted from the building they built and gave to the city decades ago.
    2) The city tried to write legislation to sell the building to the BSA for $500K but (according to the link, I don’t have a primary source) various gay-rights groups brought pressure to kill the deal.
    3) A Federal judge has denied the city a new trial.
    4) The same Federal judge has ordered the city to pay the BSA’s $877K court costs.

    All of which means that the city will be $1.4M poorer than it would have been if it had sold the Scouts back the building and will be that plus their own costs poorer than if they’d never brought the case in the first place.

  51. 351
    Ampersand says:

    That’s a sad outcome, Ron.

    I stand by my belief that 20 years from now, the Scouts will routinely accept gay boys on an equal basis. And at that time, they will look back on this time and be aghast and say “what were they thinking?”

  52. 352
    time123@gmail.com says:

    This is really a loose/loose.
    The scouts seem to be morally entitled to the building.
    They also seem to be homophobic in a vile way.

    So it’s good that the correct decision was made.
    But it’s sad that the scouts are hateful.

    Bad people were right….

    also I gotta agree with Amp.

  53. 353
    RonF says:

    Amp, you may well be right. But you don’t have to wait 20 years from now for the answer to that question. If the BSA admitted openly gay boys and men the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches would drop their units; they’ve told National that. That would cost the BSA about 1/4 of their membership right there. They might also lose the Lutherans, and there goes another 1/8. Add in units where the institution would try to keep the unit going but the parents would say “Nope, I don’t want my kid doing overnights with gay kids and adults” and I’m going to estimate that somewhere around 1/2 to 2/3 of the membership would be gone, and the BSA would collapse.

    The BSA is being realistic. They want Scouting to continue. As I’m sure I said somewhere up a 100 or 200 comments or so, the BSA will have to follow, not lead, public opinion on this one if they want to survive.

  54. 354
    Eytan Zweig says:

    I think RonF is very much correct in @353. Fifteen or twenty years ago, the boy scouts could have probably changed their policy silently and no one could have cared. But as public pressure on them to do so has increased, then now they are in a position where any decision (including the decision to maintain the status quo) will be scrutinized by both sides of the gay rights campaign. And the demographics of the boy scouts membership (and funding) mean that they will side with the anti-gay institutions by necessity.

    This is a necessary evil. Raising the public profile of the fight for gay rights has been necessary in the fight for true equality and had many positive effects. But it also makes some specific battles impossible to win, at least for a while. The boy scouts will change, but probably not for a generation or so.

    Which isn’t to say that keeping the public eye on their anti-gay discrimination is a bad thing – it is important. But it’s important as part of the more general awareness-raising agenda. It will not, and cannot, lead to any short-term change.

  55. 355
    RonF says:

    Fifteen or twenty years ago, the boy scouts could have probably changed their policy silently and no one could have cared.

    I regret that I have to disagree. Here’s how it works:

    All BSA units are sponsored by some manner of civic organization. Churches, PTO’s, PTA’s, Lions clubs, VFW posts, American Legion posts, all sponsor units. Schools, park districts and police and fire departments used to as well until the lawsuits started flying (these now still sponsor Learning for Life curricula and Explorer Posts, which are not subject to the BSA’s traditional membership criteria). They are responsible to see that unit leadership, meeting places, activities, training, program, etc. meet both BSA and their own standards. They operate the unit. No sponsor, no unit.

    A change to BSA membership criteria requires approval by National Council. Part of said approval means that it’s got to be approved by the Relationships Committee, which is made up of national representatives of each of the various unit sponsors. Understand that these are all volunteers. They do not work for the BSA. In fact, they are likely not BSA members. They do not represent the BSA. They represent their organizations. If you had come before them 20 years ago and asked them to admit openly gay Scouts and Scouters I don’t doubt that their answers would have been the same then as it was a few years ago when the question was put before them. It was during that effort a few years ago, BTW, that the Mormons and Catholics drew a line in the sand and others quietly said “Us, too.”

    Understand, then, that this is not the people running the National organization that have forced this policy – it’s the outside sponsors who actually run the units that have done so. National doesn’t operate a single unit.

  56. 356
    Eytan Zweig says:

    RonF – thanks for the clarification; I certainly make no claims about understanding the way the BSA works. My point, quite probably overstated, was that whatever chance for a change in policy there may have been in the past, there certainly is no chance now that the BSA’s policy towards homosexuals has become a matter of media and public scrutiny.

    15-20 years ago, it was a matter of ideology, which is something that both the Catholics and the Mormons (and most other groups) have shown a willing to compromise on as long as there was a big enough benefit to them (which is where the argument falls down, as I doubt there would have been one), and as long as they could do so silently. Now it’s about winning and losing, which is a far more serious matter to everyone involved.