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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Scouting For All Alliance for Human Rights member, PFLAG Albuquerque, NM Speaks Out
An Examination of Responses to BSA v. Dale Decision, June 2000
Information Bulletin Written and Distributed by PFLAG - Albuquerque Contact
505-266-7840 or firstname.lastname@example.org Last Updated March 10, 2001
Introduction and Background:
The case of Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court April 26, 2000 and the Court's
decision was delivered June 28, 2000. In a 5-4 decision, the Court decided that the BSA could exclude gay members.
Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Rehnquist asserted: "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; public or judicial
disapproval of a tenet of an organization's expression does not justify the State's effort to compel the organization
to accept members where such acceptance would derogate from the organization's expressive message."
Those groups filing amicus curiae in support of BSA's effort to maintain its power to exclude gays included:
Focus on the Family, American Center For Law and Justice, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of The
Southern Baptist Convention, Campus Crusade For Christ International, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, Eagle
Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, Family Research Council, Institute of Public Affairs of the Union of
Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, National Catholic Committee on Scouting, General Commission on United
Methodist Men of the United Methodist Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Lutheran Church-Missouri
Synod, National Council of Young Israel, Concerned Women For America, U.S. Catholic Conference, New Jersey Catholic
Those groups filing amicus curiae in support of Dale's challenge to the BSA's exclusion of gays included: American
Federation of Teachers, Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education
Fund, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, NOW Legal Defense
and Education Fund, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, People For the American Way, American Jewish Congress,
American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, National Association of Social Workers,
Association, American Orthopsychiatric Association, Cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland,
San Francisco, Tucson, Deans of Divinity Schools and Rabbinical Institutions, The General Board of Church and Society
of the United Methodist Church, The United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, The Religious Action Center of
Reform Judaism, The Diocesan Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, The Unitarian Universalist Association,
The NAACP, PFLAG, State of New Jersey, State of New York, American Association of School Administrators, Society
of American Law Teachers, American Bar Association.
BSA's response to the Court's ruling was issued in a news release of June 28, 2000: "This decision affirms
our standing as a private association with the right to set its own standards for membership and leadership."
Thus, BSA is upheld in its belief that it can define membership generally (adult and youth) by its own organizational
criteria. The news release goes on to state: "We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the
values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law." The news release discloses that the organization "makes
no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any person" but adds that "Scouting's message is compromised
when prospective leaders present themselves as role models inconsistent with Boy Scouting's understanding of the
Scout Oath and Law."
How have individuals and groups responded to the BSA? The following table provides an overview of patterns emerging
in the responses of selected groups thus far.
Organizational Responses to BSA Following the Supreme Court Decision of June 2000
FAITH COMMUNITIES BUSINESS NON-PROFITS, CHARITABLE GROUPS SCHOOLS GOVERNMENT UNIONS BSA-TROOPS, COUNCILS,
INDIVIDUALS-IN OPPOSITION TO THE NATIONAL BSA
Joint Commission on Social Action of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations urges cutting ties with BSA.
The 9 Reform Jewish synagogues in Colorado terminate sponsorship of BSA troops. Source: Claire Martin, "Lone
Eagle Boy Scouts' Gay Policy Sets Groups Apart," Denver Post 25 Feb. 2001; Scouting For All Press Release.
Textron, Levi's and Chase Manhattan announce termination of support for BSA. Source: "Silence Gives Consent
Bad Press," PR News 19 Feb. 2001; Kate Zernike,
"Scout's Successful Ban on Gays is Followed by Loss in Support," New York Times 29 Aug. 2000
"Phillip Jones, a spokesman for the United Way of America, said 24 chapters out of 1,400 have withdrawn
funding [to BSA] based on the [Court] decision." Source: John Sullivan, "Rallying the Troops,"
New York Times 29 Oct. 2000
BSA troops lose fee waiver for using Sunnyside Unified School District facilities, as a result of the school
districts decision "to revoke its rent waiver for the use of district classrooms and gymnasiums" by the
troops. Source: "Scouts balk at Sunnyside fee for meetings," Tucson Citizen 29 Sept. 2000
Tucson City Council makes decision to cut public funds to BSA and discriminatory groups. Source: "Tucson
Cuts Off Funding to Boy Scouts, Others," Arizona Republic 27 Sep. 2000
National Education Association issues resolution against exclusionary policies (but does not name BSA itself).
Plymouth-Canton Education Association becomes first MI teachers' union to adopt policy calling on schools to stop
providing space for and allowing recruiting by BSA. Source: Jennifer Chambers, "Plymouth schools to vote
on ban on Scout meetings.
Teachers union objects to group's anti-gay policy," Detroit News 14 Nov. 2000
Cub Scout Pack 5 of Montclair, NJ sends petition signed by 93 boys to national BSA in protest against the national's
discrimination. Source: John Sullivan, "Rallying the Troops," New York Times 29 Oct. 2000;
Claudia Kolker, "Scouts Pledge to Persevere in Face of Opposition to Ban on Gays; Nationwide, Foes of the
Policy Have Taken a New Oath, Pulling Local Support for the Organization, Which Stands Firm in its Prohibition,"
The Los Angeles Times
14 Nov. 2000
United Methodist Church (which sponsors approximately 15% of BSA troops nationwide) calls on its congregations
to withdraw sponsorship. Source: "Editorial: Freedom of Association is Boy Scouts' Right," Kalamazoo
Gazette, 30 June 2000
Novell Inc. ends policy of matching contributions made by its employees to BSA. Source: Bob Mims, "Novell
Halts Boy Scout Contributions, Cites Its Anti-Discrimination Policy," The Salt Lake City Tribune 11 Nov. 2000
". . . the Minneapolis school board voted unanimously to end its sponsorship of Boy Scout troops and to
prohibit the Scouts from recruiting new members in the public schools." Source: Mark Walsh, "Scouts'
Ban on Gays Is Prompting Schools to Reconsider Ties," Education Week 25 Oct. 2000
Los Angeles City Council votes unanimously "to cut the city's ties with the Boy Scouts of America, saying
the group's exclusion of gays and atheists is discriminatory." Source: "L.A. Cuts Ties to Boy Scouts,
Charging Bias," The Washington Post 29 Nov. 2000
Piedmont Council of BSA takes stand against national BSA. However, Piedmont fears that the national will decertify
"the independent Piedmont Scouting unit." Councils in St. Paul, MN and Providence RI call on national
BSA to review policy. Source: Oakland Tribune 7 Oct. 2000
Union Congregational Church in Taunton, Mass., decides against renewing BSA troop's charter. "They are
exclusionary and we are not," Rev. Beverly Duncan states. Source: Teresa Malcolm, "Troops Rejected
Because of Boy Scout Policy," National Catholic Reporter 15 Dec. 2000.
Community School District 2 in NYC "withdrew its support for the Scouts . . . and urged the city's other
boards and the central board of education to follow its lead." Districts in Keene, NH; Alum Rock, CA; Framingham,
Mass., Broward County, FL; and Bethel, Ore. have also taken action against BSA (Bethel withdrew its action on advice
its attorney; BSA sued Broward County). Source: Mark Walsh, "Scouts' Ban on Gays is Prompting Schools to
Reconsider Ties," Education Week 25 Oct. 2000;
"Eugene Area Schools Ban Scout Drive," Seattle Times 15 Sept. 2000; Shaila K. Dewan, "Manhattan
School District Withdraws Support for Scouts, Citing Bias," New York Times 27 Sept. 2000
Princeton borough council tells BSA troop "renounce the national organization's policy banning gay scoutmasters,
without the free parking for its annual Christmas tree sale." Source: "Parking Privileges," New
York Times 10 Dec. 2000
"The Boy Scouts of America is effectively expelling seven Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops in suburban Oak
Park [Chicago area] because their sponsoring organizations said they could not abide by a rule that excludes gays."
The sponsor is a
parent-teacher organization which made the decision "not [to] yield to the Boy Scouts of America edict."
Source: William Claiborne, "Scouts Expel Troops Whose Leaders Oppose Gay Ban," The Washington Post 27
First Congregational Church of Chapppaqua "demanded" that its local troop "sign a document saying
they would not follow the Boy Scouts of America's national policy excluding homosexuals." Source: Corey
Kilgannon, "Censorship Alleged on Web Site," New York Times 14 Jan. 2001
In Feb. 2001, Georgia Senate Committee passes "Defense of Scouting Bill" to prevent government agencies
from barring use of public facilities or eligibility for funding for groups upholding "moral" membership
criteria; similar bill is approved in Arizona House in the same month. Source: "Scouting Bill is homophobic
overkill," The Atlanta Constitution 26 Feb. 2001; "Boy Scouts
Struggles Continue," PlanetOut 27 Feb. 2001
Dave Rice, Scott Cozza, and Steve Cozza make public statements against BSA homophobia and try to change the
policy from within. Rice and Scott Cozza are expelled from BSA. Source: Scout's Honor, documentary to be shown
on PBS in June 2001; Ellen Grigsby, Personal Correspondence with Scott Cozza
Washington Park UCC withdraws sponsorship of local troop, which ends a 60-year connection with BSA; the church
has a liturgical service in which the 125 congregation members participate. Source: Jean Torkelson, "Church
Cuts Ties With Scout Troop," Denver Rocky Mountain News 12 Feb. 2001; Virginia Culver, "Scout Troop:
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Turmoil Persists Over Policy on Gays," Denver Post 8 Feb. 2001
U.S. House of Representatives votes 362-12 to kill proposal to revoke BSA charter because it excludes gays.
Source: "House Backs Boy Scouts in Vote Over Gay Issue," New York Times 14 Sept. 2000
The Greater New York Councils, BSA announces its decision in Feb. 2001 to challenge and oppose the national
BSA homophobia after New York City Council tries to terminate sponsorship of BSA's Law Enforcement Explorers Program.
Source: Eric Lipton, "Local Scouting Board, Calling Gay Ban "Stupid,' Urges End to National Policy,"
New York Times 27 Feb. 2001
First United Methodist Church in Golden CO negotiates continuation of "don't ask, don't tell, don't investigate"
policy with its troop. Source: Virginia Culver, "Scout Troop: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Turmoil Persists Over
Policy on Gays," Denver Post 8 Feb. 2001
Mark Noel, a gay assistant scoutmaster in Hanover, Mass. troop writes newspaper commentary in which he criticizes
BSA homophobia. BSA expels him one week later. Lois R. Shea, "Dismissed Boy Scout Leader Seeks a Reversal,"
Boston Globe 22 Oct. 2000.
Orchard Park UCC in Madison WI stops sponsorship of troop, but allows troop to continue using building; the
church explicitly chose not to ask local troop to take the risk of jeopardizing its standing by openly signing
a clear statement against discrimination, so the church took "hot seat" not the local troop. Source:
Ellen Grigsby, Albuquerque PFLAG, Personal correspondence with Orchard Park Minister
Unitarian Universalist Association adopts Immediate Witness statement in support of Scouting For All, urges
local troops "to adopt anti-discrimination policies that include religious belief, sexual orientation, and
gender identity," and calls on UU Scouts to promote change within BSA and in community. Source: UU Association,
"Work to Change Discriminatory Policies of Boy Scouts of America," 1999 Action of Immediate Witness,
In July 2000, Episcopal "bishops concurred with the House of Deputies . . . in a resolution (C031) that
encourages the Boy Scouts of America to allow adult leaders to serve regardless of their sexual orientation."
Source: Joe Thoma, "Bishops call for inclusive Boy Scout leadership," Episcopal News Service 16 July
2000, at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/ens/GC2000-082.html
What is PFLAG Doing in Response to the BSA's Discrimination?
PFLAG's National Board of Dirctors adopted a statement on July 17, 2000 which affirms that PFLAG "deplores
the Boy Scouts of America's practice of excluding gay youth, leaders and volunteers from its program and services."
PFLAG's statement goes on to urge the BSA to end its discriminatory policy and actions.
PFLAG Albuquerque has taken the following actions to oppose the homophobic message and actions of the BSA:
- PFLAG Albuquerque participated in a protest at Winrock Mall in Summer 2000 in response to Scouting For
All's request for solidarity in challenging the BSA's homophobia.
- In Fall 2000, four members of PFLAG's Board met with the Executive Scout of the Rio Grande Council to request
that the Council adopt a nondiscrimination statement and to advise PFLAG on how we might be a force encouraging
change in the BSA.
- PFLAG Albuquerque provides regular updates on BSA homophobia and on local and national efforts to work for
scouting without bigotry in our monthly newsletter.
- PFLAG Albuquerque is working to meet with and urge local sponsors of BSA to undertake a process of reflection
on what their responsibilities are as sponsors, given BSA's discrimination.
For more information-or to join in this civil rights movement-please contact PFLAG Albuquerque.
Information Bulletin Written and Distributed by PFLAG - Albuquerque Contact 505-266-7840 or email@example.com
Last Updated March 10, 2001