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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

From Fox News:

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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The following Document Contains Significant Excerpts from the Supreme Court's Decision, Dale V BSA


Opinion of the Court, June 28, 2000, by Chief Justice Rehnquist:

The decision limits its decision to the appointment of Scout leaders, and says nothing about the BSA's practice of dismissing youth members (under the age of 18) from Scouting. he BSA continues to kick out both gay youth and adults. They also kick out the parent(s) of scouts who are gay adult leaders. They kick out the anyone who is gay or deny membership to anyone who says he or she is gay. If more gay scouts came out the BSA would lose a large number of their scouts. It is estimated that 1 out of every 10 children are gay. Their message to gay youth that they are morally inferior is an abomination and disrespects the world scouting movement's mission, that embraces all children and the diversity of the human family.

The Supreme Court limits its decision to the right of an organization to limit its membership and says little about discrimination against homosexuals. "We are not, as we must not be, guided by our views of whether the Boy Scouts' teachings with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong," and "It appears that homosexuality has gained greater societal acceptance." (pages 18 and 19)

Dissent from the opinion, June 28, 1000, by Justice Stevens, joined by Justice Souter, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer: Some key findings that raise serious doubt about the majority decision and will undoubtedly influence future court decisions:

"But that [New Jersey] law does not 'impos[e] any serious burdens' on BSA's 'collective effort on behalf of [its] shared goals,'" ... "Nor does it force BSA to communicate any message that it does not wish to endorse." (page 3)

"[N]either the charter nor the bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America permit the exclusion of any boy." (page 4)

"It is plain as the light of day that neither one of these principles 'morally straight' and 'clean' says the slightest thing about
homosexuality." (page 7)

"BSA's bylaws state that it is 'absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward ... religious training.' ... 'The BSA does not define what constitutes duty to God or the practice of religion. This is the responsibility of parents and religious leaders.' In fact, many diverse religious organizations sponsor local Boy Scout troops. ... Because a number of religious groups do not view homosexuality as immoral or wrong and reject discrimination against homosexuals, it is exceedingly difficult to believe that BSA nonetheless adopts a single particular religious or moral philosophy when it comes to sexual orientation." "BSA surely is aware
that some religions do not teach that homosexuality is wrong." (page 9) [A footnote lists United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, Episcopal Church [Bishop of Newark], the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the United Church Board of Homeland Ministries, and the Unitarian Universalist Association as rejecting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.]

[Quoting from a 1978 BSA memorandum on homosexuality] "'In the event that such a law was applicable, it would be necessary for the Boy Scouts of America to obey it.' ... The 1978 policy was never publicly expressed ... It remained, in effect a secret Boy Scouts policy." (pages 10-11)

"[T]here is no indication of any shared goal of teaching that homosexuality is incompatible with being 'morally straight' and 'clean.' Neither BSA's mission statement nor its official membership policy was altered; no Boy Scout or Scoutmaster Handbook was amended to reflect the policy; no lessons were imparted to Scouts; no change was made to BSA's policy on limiting discussion of sexual matters; and no effort was made to restrict acceptable religious affiliations to those that condemn homosexuality. In short, there is no evidence that this view was part of any collective effort to foster beliefs about homosexuality." (page 14)

"In short, Boy Scouts of America is simply silent on homosexuality. There is no shared goal or collective effort to foster a belief about homosexuality at all let alone one that is significantly burdened by admitting homosexuals." (page 23)

"This is an astounding view of the law. I am unaware of any previous instance in which our analysis of the scope of a constitutional right was determined by looking at what a litigant asserts in his or hier brief and inquiring no further." (page 25)

'But that [First Amendment] right is not a freedom to discriminate at will, nor is it a right to maintain an exclusionary membership policy simply out of fear of what the public reaction would be." (page 26)

"Indeed, the past month alone has witnessed some remarkable changes in attitudes about homosexuals." "That such prejudices are still prevalent and that they have caused serious and tangible harm to countless members of the class New Jersey seeks to protect are established matters of fact that neither the Boy Scout nor the Court disputes. That harm can only be aggravated by the creation of a constitutional shield for a policy that is itself the product of a habitual way of thinking about strangers. As Justice Brandeis so wisely advised, 'we must be ever on our guard, lest we erect our prejudices into legal principles.'
"If we would guided by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold." (page 40)




Scouting For All is not an alternative scouting program.
We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

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