For Immediate Release and Distribution
June 16, 2004
Margaret Downey, Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia
Scouting For All National
We ask that concerned residents of Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware Valley, and Philadelphia send
the following signed letter to Mayor Street:
Honorable John F. Street Mayor, City of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3295
Dear Mayor Street,
I/we commend the City of Philadelphia for enacting a comprehensive Fair Practices ordinance (Philadelphia Charter
and Code of Ordinances, Title 9, Chapter 9-1105, 668-669) prohibiting the use of public accommodations to any
person or organization who would deny access "...because of his race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender
identity, religion, national origin, ancestry, physical handicap or marital status, either directly or indirectly."
I/we call upon the City of Philadelphia to apply the terms of the said ordinance to the use of all its public
properties and resources without bias or favor to any group or individual.
I/we specifically urge the City to hold the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America (CoLBSA),
headquartered in City-owned real estate known as the Beaux Arts Building (located at North Twenty-second and Winter
Streets) rent and tax free since 1928, to the same standards required of any other beneficiary of public funding
or real-estate access.
CoLBSA claims to serve "all boys" in the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area, yet has practiced active
discrimination against gay and Atheist scouts.
We recognize that CoLBSA has attempted to take steps to ensure its future compliance with City law. We support
all efforts by CoLBSA to do away with its practice of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender
individuals, Atheists, and other non-theists so that this local Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) can
truly serve all law-abiding, tax-paying families in the metropolitan area.
Unfortunately, CoLBSA's 2003 attempt at enacting a non-discrimination policy was met with hostility from the
national office of BSA and CoLBSA quickly withdrew the policy. BSA is a "down-the-line" private organization
which does not permit individual Councils to make policy independent of the national office.
I/we recommend that the City require CoLBSA to implement a genuine, testable non-discrimination policy as
soon as possible. A "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy is not sufficient. The only other option available
is to charge CoLBSA full fair-market-value rent for the Beaux Arts Building.
I/we suggest that there are many other non-discriminatory youth development organizations located in the Greater
Philadelphia metropolitan area. They struggle financially while providing great benefit to City and area
children and families. Any legitimate non-discriminatory youth organization would be a more appropriate recipient
of such aid than CoLBSA.
Providing those resources instead to a private organization that practices and teaches groundless prejudice
is a disservice to the community and a grievous misuse of taxpayer dollars. CoLBSA needs to stop discriminating,
pay rent to the City, or find other headquarters.
Finally, I/we submit that BSA, held by the U. S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2000 in Boy Scouts of America v.
Dale), to be a "private organization" entitled to discriminate based on religious belief or sexual orientation,
forfeited its eligibility for public funding.
It is the opinion of Scouting for All and the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia that from the date
of June 28, 2000 forward, the City of Philadelphia is entitled and obligated to hold CoLBSA liable for full fair-market-value
rent for the use of the Beaux Arts Building.
Reimbursement of rent should be pursued promptly by the City of Philadelphia.
(city, state, zip)