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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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Marines cut tie to Scout troops

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

The sponsorship of two Boys Scout troops and a Cub Scout pack by the Quantico Marine Corps base ended recently following a partial settlement reached between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Pentagon.

"Marine Corps Base Quantico will no longer be a charter signatory with the local Boy Scout troops," said Marine Lt. Col. Rick Long, director of the Quantico Public Affairs Office. "However, all other support and access to [the base] will remain the same for the Boy Scouts as with any other authorized non-profit organization,"

Boy Scout Troop 121, Troop 176 and Cub Scout Pack 176 have been holding their meetings aboard base and will continue to do so, Long said.

The Department of Defense has agreed to send out a message to all military bases reaffirming its policy against sponsorship of non-federal organizations.

The ACLU of Illinois had filed a lawsuit in 1999 contending that because the Scouts excluded people who did not profess a belief in God, government funding of the organization through military officials acting in an official capacity violated the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state.

"The settlement agreement clarifies regulations with regard to DoD personnel acting in official capacities such as serving on boards of directors and signing charters that serve as the legal basis for the creation of Boy Scouts organizations," Long said.

The Department of Defense did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.

Quantico Marine officials did not contribute monetarily to the local Scout troops, Long said.

"The settlement does not prohibit the Department of Defense from supporting the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scout units are permitted to meet on military bases and military personnel are allowed to remain active in Boy Scout programs," Long said.

The level of support provided to Boy Scouts will not diminish as a result of the settlement, Long said.

"Under the very limited settlement applying existing DoD policy, DoD may not officially sponsor Boy Scout units and DoD personnel may not sponsor Boy Scout units in an official capacity. The DoD policy prohibiting official sponsorship applies to all private organizations, not just the Boy Scouts."

Ted Stout, an active-duty Marine and scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 121, said that aside from finding another organization other than the Quantico Marine Corps base to sign its charter, the settlement will not impact his

"I'll be going out this week to find another sponsor," said Stout, who has been active in the troop for about four years. "I'm very confident that we will get another sponsoring organization. It is not going to be a problem."

Many of the boys active in these groups are military children or have parents who work aboard Quantico. There are other adults, aside from Stout who also have ties to the military. The military personnel will not be affected by the settlement since they are volunteers with the organization and are not do doing so in an official military capacity.

Aside from as a meeting place, Scout organizations do not use Quantico facilities that often despite the availability to them and other non-profit organizations.

"Over the last two years, four Boy Scout Troops requested and were authorized use of Lunga Reservoir Campgrounds," Long said.

Stout's troop was among those to camp by the lake.

"There is going to be no change that I can see," Stout said.




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