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United Church of Christ at Dartmouth Evicts Boy Scouts Because Of Policy On Homosexuals, Hanover, New Hampshire

Associated Press, March 8, 2002

United Church of Christ at Dartmouth evicts Boy Scouts because of policy on homosexuals

 HANOVER, N.H. (AP) - The Hanover chapter of the Boy Scouts has been told it no longer can meet at the United Church of Christ at Dartmouth College because the national organization won't admit homosexuals.  Troop 45 had been meeting for 65 years in the church building, which is located on the Dartmouth campus, but not affiliated with the Ivy League school.

 Church leaders say the Boy Scouts of America's position is inconsistent with the congregation's policy, which welcomes everyone, including gays and lesbians, to "join in the full life and ministry of the church."

 "We decided that we could no longer support having this group in the building when we have a strong anti-discrimination policy," the Rev. Carla Bailey said.

 The decision by the board of elders Tuesday night was prompted by a Feb. 6 resolution by the Boy Scouts of America not to permit local groups to determine their own leadership standards. In addition, the resolution reaffirmed the organization's position that "homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the traditional values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law."

 "It was a difficult decision because the board recognized the value of the educational and outdoor and leadership aspects of the Boy Scout program," said Nancy Marion, chairwoman of the board of elders.

 The church, scout leaders and scout parents have met on the issue since November 2000. Church leaders actually decided against renewing the troop's lease in December 2000, but continued to allow the scouts to use its building free of charge while talks continued.

 Alan Lambert, who heads the state scouting organization, declined to comment on the latest decision, saying he had not received formal notification, but Nicholas Collins, the troop committee chairman and a former scoutmaster, called it "terribly unfair."

 "They voted to be an open and affirming congregation, but I think it's obvious that they're no longer totally open because they don't want the Boy Scouts there," he said.

 At least one parent said he could understand the rationale behind the decision.

 "I'm obviously disappointed, but very much understand why the church has taken the steps that they have," Paul Olsen said.
 The policy became a local issue earlier when Mark Noel, an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 45, was forced to leave the scouts after revealing he was gay in a Valley News op-ed piece. He had written the piece in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the organization's right to expel a scout leader because of his sexual orientation.

 Collins emphasized that the decision had nothing to do with the local troop.

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