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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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Pa. Human Relations Commission Attempts Conciliation from BSA

by Margaret Downey

 On Thursday, February 29, 1996 the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission conducted a Conciliation Meeting between the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and me. The Conciliation Meeting was arranged after the investigation of my discrimination complaint resulted in a 'Probable Cause' finding. The meeting is an effort to adjust the complaint through conciliation. According to Webster's Dictionary conciliate means; to gain (as goodwill) by pleasing acts or to make compatible, reconcile, appease or become friendly or agreeable.  The Conciliation Meeting was attended by three attorneys hired by the BSA. The BSA sent George Davidson (attorney from Texas), Karla Kerr (attorney from New York) and Mark Tunnell (attorney from West Chester, Pa.). The Executive Director of the Chester County Boy Scouts of America off  FSGP attorney, George Kelley accompanied me to the meeting. We made a terrific team. George was strong and effective with legal matters while I appealed to the morality and compassion side of the issue.

 Anticipating that the BSA would not conciliate and would make every attempt to have the Probable Cause ruling thrown out, I prepared a written statement which I gave to everyone at the Conciliation Meeting. The statement was signed by my son and me. It stated that we were '... willing, ready, and able to sign on as an adult BSA volunteer as long as a belief in the existence of God is not a condition of acceptance as a volunteer.'

 In a desperate attempt to show the commission that their Probable Cause finding was unwise and inappropriate, Kerr pointed out that the Pennsylvania Public Accommodations Statutes state that no one shall be denied 'privies and advantages.' Kerr contended that there is no privilege or advantage to being a volunteer. According to her, being a volunteer is 'hard work with only gratification of having served as the reward.' She continued to insist that because of all the 'hard work' involved in volunteering there really was no 'privilege' or 'advantage' and therefore the case should be thrown out.

 Only the BSA could come up with such ridiculous logic. George and I countered with the right of association as the 'advantage' and 'privilege.' We also mentioned the many BSA excursion, jamborees and other activities that provide much pleasure of association to volunteers.




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