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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

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Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.


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Scouts to appeal bias ruling to Supreme Court

Ann Rostow, PlanetOut Network
published Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Berkeley-based Sea Scouts troop will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by California's high court that upheld the city's right to deny them free rent at a city marina over their biased views.
The Berkeley City Council required the Sea Scouts to pledge not to discriminate on the basis of a host of factors, including sexual orientation. When the Scouts declined to make a clear statement to this effect, the city revoked their free marina privileges in May 1998, and obliged them to pay for the docks.
The Sea Scouts are an independent arm of the Boy Scouts of America, a huge enterprise that proudly discriminates against gays and atheists and has even gone to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the right to hold this view.
In 2000, the high court agreed that the Boy Scouts have the First Amendment right to exclude gay members. But since then, more and more local governments have taken a stand similar to Berkeley's: The Scouts may discriminate all they like, but they will lose city perks and subsidies as a result.
In the marina case, the Sea Scouts insisted they had no plans to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, which they claimed was a "private matter." Yet they declined to add sexual orientation to a list of nondiscrimination standards that included "sex, race, color, national origin, political affiliation, religious preference, marital status, physical handicap or mental condition." Testimony later indicated that the Boy Scouts organization had refused to give permission for the Sea Scouts to pledge compliance with Berkeley's anti-discrimination laws.
The Sea Scouts sued Berkeley, losing in three courts. Last March, the state's high court rejected the idea that Berkeley's denial of a public subsidy interfered with the Sea Scout's First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expressive association.
The Sea Scouts were free to hold whatever view they pleased, wrote the unanimous court. But Berkeley, in turn, was free to require organizations that received free marina space to adhere to generally applicable city discrimination standards.
The U.S. Supreme Court accepts only a tiny fraction of petitions for review.

 

 

 

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