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.)