I don't want to keep posting my own stories, but I really find this topic fascinating. The Boy Scouts are going to destroy themselves if they aren't careful. When the CEO suggested I try to work a business angle into this I was skeptical, wanting to write a regular hard news story instead, but it turned out really well. I was very surprised at the support Dale got from governmental organizations...
By T.J. DEGROAT
©2000 my Internship
June 29, 2000
The Boy Scouts of America’s legal campaign against the inclusion of gays in its membership led to yesterday’s favorable Supreme Court ruling, but some civil rights experts say it could cause severe backlash from philanthropic groups and corporate sponsors.
Yesterday the justices voted 5-4 in favor of the Boy Scouts, ruling that freedom of association, as described in the First Amendment, gives the organization absolute power to accept and reject members.
“The Boy Scouts asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values it seeks to instill,” Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote in the court’s majority opinion. “The Boy Scouts takes an official position with respect to homosexual conduct, and that is sufficient for First Amendment purposes.”
The Boy Scouts made it clear that homosexuality goes against their oath to be “morally straight” when the organization ousted James Dale, an assistant scoutmaster from Troop 73 in Matawan, N.J., after being described as a gay student leader at Rutgers University in a 1990 newspaper article.
The former Eagle Scout began his legal battle in 1992. Yesterday’s decision overturns a 1999 ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court that said the Scouts violated the state’s anti-discrimination law.
“I’ve spent nearly half of my life in Scouting, so obviously this decision is disappointing,” Dale said. “If I learned anything during my years as a Scout, it was to believe that justice will prevail. America realizes that discrimination is wrong, even if the Boy Scouts don’t know that yet.”
In a prepared statement, the Boy Scouts said the decision affirms its standing as a private association with the right to choose its own membership.
“The Boy Scouts of America, as a private organization, must have the right to establish its own standards of membership if it is to continue to instill the values of the Scout Oath and Law in boys,” the statement said.
While the Scouts don’t make an effort to discover the sexual orientation of its members, the organization believes “an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law,” according to the statement.
David Buckel, a senior staff attorney for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund who worked on the case, said the court’s decision forces governmental agencies such as public schools to pull support from the Scouts.
“If they sponsor the Boy Scouts they are giving governmental approval to an anti-gay message,” he said. “They now must look for programs that serve all youth in a positive way.”
In fact, 37 amicus briefs were filed in the case. Supporters included the American Psychological Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 11 states, seven cities and five school districts.
Financial action was taken by such groups as the United Way of Somerset County in New Jersey, which revoked its annual donation of $30,600 in May because the Scouts refused to sign an anti-discrimination policy.
Other organizations may follow suit and could prove to be disastrous to the Scouts’ cause, Buckel said.