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.
Scouting for All is a 100% Volunteer 501-(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. Every dollar donated goes toward our education and advocacy programs, and is tax deductible.
Refusal to Subsidize Scouting Is Upheld Nonprofit groups such as the Boy Scouts that refuse
to comply with an anti-bias policy can be denied government support, justices rule.
By Maura Dolan
Times Staff Writer
March 10, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO California may refuse to provide subsidies to the Boy Scouts of America and other nonprofit groups
that fail to comply with government antidiscrimination policies, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously
The state high court's decision gives cities and government agencies the ability to impose antidiscrimination conditions
on any group that receives a public benefit. The ruling was one of a handful across the country in which courts
have permitted government agencies to exclude the Boy Scouts from programs because the Scouts bar gays and atheists.
In a ruling written by Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, the court upheld a decision by the city of Berkeley to
end a decades-long tradition of providing free berthing at a city marina to the Sea Scouts, an affiliate of the
The Sea Scouts argued that it had never discriminated and complained that the city was violating its 1st Amendment
rights to free speech and association.
But the court said the group's refusal to pledge to comply with the city's antidiscrimination policy justified
"A government entity may constitutionally require a recipient of funding or subsidy to provide written, unambiguous
assurances of compliance" with an antidiscrimination policy, Werdegar wrote. The requirement does not violate
free speech rights because "to condition a public benefit on assurances of nondiscrimination is not to compel
advocacy of a viewpoint," the court said.
The case attracted widespread interest. Groups weighing in the litigation on behalf of the Sea Scouts included
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting and the National Club
Supporting Berkeley were the League of California Cities and California Assn. of Counties, the Anti-Defamation
League, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and three foundations of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Berkeley City Atty. Manuela Albuquerque called Thursday's ruling an important civil rights victory that was likely
to have impact beyond California.
"The court is saying, 'You may discriminate all you want, but you may not do it on the public's dime,' "
Antidiscrimination policies are widespread in California cities, but Berkeley's was the only one she knew of that
has been challenged in court, she said.
A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America said the group was dismayed by the decision, and a lawyer for one of
the Sea Scouts called the ruling "a license to discriminate."
"Carried to its logical extreme, any city government or public agency could start excluding the Boy Scouts
or any group that was not ideologically correct in the eyes of City Hall," said Harold Johnson, a lawyer with
the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative, nonprofit legal group that represented one of the Sea Scouts.
Thursday's decision was one of a few court rulings across the country giving governments the right to exclude Boy
Scouts on the basis of its ban of gays and atheists. A decision on a dispute over whether the Boy Scouts can receive
a subsidized lease of public land from the city of San Diego is pending in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, a gay rights group, compared Thursday's ruling with "an old
parental maxim: 'If I pay the bill, I get to make the rules.' "
The case against Berkeley was brought by 14 youths and adults who participate in the Berkeley Sea Scouts, which
teaches seamanship and other maritime skills to teenagers who pay no more than $7 a year to participate. The group
is ethnically diverse and includes youngsters from poverty-stricken homes, the state high court noted.
Berkeley began giving the Scouts free berthing at its marina in the late 1930s.
When other groups began clamoring for free berths several decades later, the city decided to establish a set of
policies to determine eligibility.
One of those policies required a commitment not to discriminate.
The Sea Scouts assured the city that it had never discriminated and negotiated with the Boy Scouts to determine
whether it could provide Berkeley with the necessary reassurance.
But the Boy Scouts told the Berkeley group: "You can't say you don't discriminate based on sexual orientation,"
the court said.
The City Council voted to end the Scouts' subsidy in 1998 when the group failed to provide formal assurance of
compliance with the city's antidiscrimination policy. Since then, a skipper for the Sea Scouts has paid the monthly
berthing fee of about $500 for the group's vessel.
In rejecting the Scouts' constitutional challenge, the state high court observed that Berkeley did not require
the group to agree with the views behind the city's antidiscrimination policy.
"A government that requires aid recipients to conform their actions to its laws does not thereby enforce adherence
to the philosophy or values behind those laws," Werdegar wrote.
Berkeley also did not demand that the Sea Scouts discontinue its relationship with the Boy Scouts, Werdegar observed.
If the Boy Scouts decides to cut ties with a group that promises to comply with a government antidiscrimination
policy, "the decision to sever the association would be Boy Scouts of America's, not the government's,"