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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.

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BSA/PHRC Conciliation Meeting Fails

 In January 1996, after a 49-month investigation, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) found 'Probable Cause' in the claim of religious discrimination filed by Margaret Downey against the Chester County Boy Scouts of America (CCBSA). A conciliation meeting was arranged through the PHRC in an attempt to adjust the complaint.

 The conciliation meeting took place on February 29, 1996. The PHRC requested the CCBSA to cease and desist from the discriminatory practice of religious testing to qualify for membership. The request was flatly denied by representatives of the CCBSA and the national office of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
 The national office of the BSA dispatched Texas attorney, George Davidson, New York attorney Karla Kerr, and Pennsylvania attorney Mark Tunnell to reject any and all negotiations. Margaret Downey was accompanied by FSGP's corporate attorney, George Kelley.

 BSA representatives made no attempt to find a compromise and held steadfast to their claim that the BSA is a private, religiously-based organization. Kerr declared that the BSA is 'like every other religious organization in that they only want members of their religious thinking to be members.'

 In the spirit of compromise Downey requested that the BSA allow nontheists to recognize a 'duty to conscience.' She requested that one additional 'o' be added to the word God to allow nontheists to be honest about their belief system.

 The suggested alternative oath was denied by Kerr. Kerr said that the national office of the BSA continues to reaffirm their 'duty to God.' Downey asked Kerr to take the alternative oath suggestion to the BSA's Board of Directors for further discussion. Davidson and Kerr indicated that the decision to reject any alternative oath had been decided in 1991 and it would not be considered further. Kerr said she was representing the national office and all those connected to the BSA. She  PHRC representative Luis Rivera also requested that Kerr take the alternative oath proposal back to the BSA national office for consideration. Kerr once again refused, saying that it would be an 'unconstitutional imposition to force the BSA to accept an alternative oath policy.' The meeting failed to reach conciliation between Downey and the BSA.

 On March 15, 1996 Kerr filed a Motion for Rescission of Finding of Probable Cause with the PHRC. The Motion argues that:

1. Downey's son is now too old to be a Scout.

2. The BSA does not offer a 'service' to volunteers, therefore, a person's 'offer of volunteer services' is not subject to Section 5(i)(1) of the Pennsylvania Public Accommodations Act.

3. The BSA is not a public accommodation.

 California attorney Jim Randall filed an Amicus Brief on March 31st countering the arguments of the BSA on behalf of Margaret Downey. The PHRC must now decide if this case will go to public hearing




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We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

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