Boy Scout Controversy Going to Court
In what’s been an extremely long, awful story, the flap between the city of Philadelphia and the local boy scouts will likely go to court next week. It’s a case in which no one will win, in spite of the legal outcome.
Here’s the basis of the situation, according to the Inky:
At issue is whether the city must continue to provide the Scouts with rent-free occupancy of a 1928 Beaux Arts building it owns at 22nd and Winter streets near the Parkway. (Cradle pays the city $1 annually to lease the property.)
The Boy Scouts of America Inc. bars anyone who is openly gay from being a member – which violates a 1982 city ordinance banning discrimination based upon sexual orientation, the city said.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that because the Boy Scouts is a private group, it has a constitutional right to associate with whomever it wants and government cannot interfere with it.
The city contends that doesn’t mean it must subsidize the rent of any organization that discriminates.
As city officials were preparing to file suit in state court in early June 2008 to boot Cradle of Liberty or get it to agree to pay $200,000 in annual rent, Cradle pre-empted the city and sued it in federal court in May 2008.
Cradle alleged that the city breached its rights to freely associate and be afforded equal protection to other similarly situated organizations.
The city seeks $333,000 in damages, the rent it claims Cradle owes since June 2, 2008.
And here’s the problem: The local Boy Scout Chapter, Cradle of Liberty Council, said it’d change its policies regarding homosexual membership if the Boy Scouts of America changed its policy – and that isn’t some cheap excuse, either. Cradle of Liberty began admitting homosexuals in 2003, though after this, the Scouts’ national office sent Cradle of Liberty a cease-and-desist letter, threatening dissolution. Afterwards, the local chapter had no choice but to again ban homosexuals.
The local scout chapter, therefore, is stuck in a corner. And so is most of the reporting on the ordeal, which paint this as an us-against-them city issue. Case in point:
Writing for extreme right wing site World Net Daily in 2006, Hans Zeiger said, “Drug-related gang violence plagues the streets of the City of Brotherly Love. But one of the most outrageous attacks comes from the office of Philadelphia Mayor John Street. It is aimed at the Boy Scouts…”
Left wing media watch Newshounds has said of the issue: “The harmonious trio on FOX and Friends this morning 10/19/07 were (surprise!) in agreement that the Boy Scouts in Philadelphia are being wronged by the City, who has requested that they either amend their non-discrimination policy, or pay a fair market value for the city property that they currently rent for $1/year. That would be a rent increase, should they choose to not comply, of $199,999.00/year.”
Truth is, policy prevents both the city of Philadelphia as well as the local scouts from compromise. What this comes down to is national scout policy.
So while the city is correct in its anti-discrimination policy, what really needs to happen is a federal anti-discrimination law, similar to the abolishing of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” in the military (this is probably against Scouts’ honor or something, but still…). The federal government needs to force the Boy Scouts of America to allow homosexuals to become leaders, or at least allow local chapters to base their policies around local laws. If stubbornness is the only outcome, and discrimination is the only choice, the national scouts should pay rent to the city.