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Press Release
For Immediate Release and Distribution
June 10, 2004

City violates separation of church and state in dealings with the Boy Scouts

Contact: Scott Cozza, President
Scouting for All
707-778-0564 or (toll-free)
1-877-283-2813 ext. 11

City Official
City of Tyler, Texas

The city council of Tyler, Texas, approved a lease agreement on Wednesday, June 9, between the city and the East Texas Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Under the terms of the agreement, the East Texas Area Council would lease 85 acres of city-owned land for two-years at $1 per year with the option to purchase the property below market rate.

"To lease land to an organization that claims discrimination among its 'traditional standards of membership' would be contrary to the city council's responsibility, said Scott Cozza, President of Scouting for All, in a letter he sent to the city council before Wednesday's vote. "It is the duty of local governments to ensure it acts in the best
interest of all its citizens "including those who may be gay or non-theist."

In a similar sweetheart deal, U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. ruled in July of 2003 that a lease between the Desert Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the City of San Diego violates provisions of the U.S. and state constitutions, which govern the separation of church and state.

The City of San Diego signed multi-year leases with the Desert Pacific Council, giving them space on city-owned land for $1 a year. They also received rent-free use of several city-owned recreational facilities. In January of 2004, the city settled with the American Civil Liberties Union, agreeing to payout $790,000 in legal fees and $160,000 in court costs.

"Common sense would tell you that you can't have your cake and eat it too," said Cozza. "The Boy Scouts of
America, under oath, have stated it is private religious organization. The courts have agreed."

The Boy Scouts of America require members "both youth and adults "to believe in a God. The Scout Law of the
Boy Scouts of America requires its Scouts to be "reverent," and adult volunteers must sign a "Declaration of Religious Principles." According to the Boy Scouts of America, ethical and humanistic beliefs are not sufficient to meet the "duty to God" requirement.

According to Cozza, Scouting for All is reviewing its legal options. " We are not ruling anything out at this point," said Cozza. "Right now, we are looking for Tyler citizens willing to assist us in this matter."

Scouting for All is a non-profit advocacy and educational organization working to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America and promote positive alternatives for kids.

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Additonal links:

Scouting for All,
City of Tyler,

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