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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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Sea Scouts, Richmond, California


Summary

Speakers supporting the Sea Explorers, including residents of Richmond, Berkeley, El Cerrito and El Sobrante, distanced the Northland troop from the national Boy Scouts, arguing that the troop runs a worthy program that teaches young people of diverse backgrounds to work together, creating long-lasting friendships and careers.

``There is no discrimination within our group,'' said Doug Haight, a Sea Explorer volunteer from El Sobrante.

In the end, what seemed to impress the council most was that the Sea Explorer ship Northland, which has been based in Berkeley for the past 65 years, has its own anti-discrimination policy and that the troop's 15 members make up one of the most diverse Sea Explorer troops in the Bay Area.

On July 14, the nearby Richmond City Council agreed unanimously (with one abstention and two absences) to allow the same group to use its Marina Bay facilities -- at no cost in dollars, but with a non-discrimination policy and a six-month performance review written right into the lease agreement, and a requirement that 50% of the group members be Richmond residents.

- The unit would sign a standard marina lease agreement, which includes an anti-discrimination clause.

The approval came under the condition that the Northland troop will practice a nondiscriminatory policy.

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Sea Scouts (Berkeley) Hoping to Berth in Richmond

I just spoke to Leveron Bryant at the City Manager's office in Richmond, CA (10:35am CST), and he said the Council did approve the Berthing of the Sea Scout ships given the non-discriminatory policy (which does include Sexual Orientation) that they agreed to, by a vote of 6 yes and one abstaining.

He also stated that he believes that what they agreed to is in conflict with the BSA National policies and expects this might become an issue.

- Mike Montalvo (7/15/98)

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Sea Scouts hope to dock in Richmond - 7/13/98

- At least one councilman says Berkeley was wrong to revoke free berths because of the group's policy against gays and atheists

By Shawn Masten

RICHMOND -- A Sea Scout Explorer troop, booted from its free Berkeley marina berth because of the group's policy barring gays and atheists, is hoping to resettle in Richmond.

At least one member of the City Council thinks it's a good idea, but it's questionable how much support he'll get.

The city staff apparently is not keen on the idea and neither are some council members.

"The city can ill-afford the scrutiny and negative press that could result if this 'Berkeley' dispute and debate regarding certain discriminatory practices of the Sea Scouts shifts to Richmond," Assistant City Manager Leveron Bryant wrote in a June 19 memo to the council.

The Berkeley City Council in May voted to revoke the free berths of Sea Scout ships Northland and Farallon. The vote came after a two-month battle over the Scouts' policy and a Berkeley law that requires organizations receiving free city services to embrace nondiscrimination.

Councilman Tom Butt, who wants the Northland to have a free berth at the Richmond marina, said Berkeley was unnecessarily punitive.

"These are tremendous programs for kids," he said. "I don't agree with the national policy; I will continue to do what I can to change it. But until that happens I'm not going to kiss off the program."

The Northland's 20-member crew consists of youths from Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond and Albany. The move to Richmond would be an easy transition because many of the kids on the boat already live there, said Bryan Sheridan, a parent volunteer whose son is on the ship's crew.

"It's a program that provides a lot of good services for just about everybody but especially for under-privileged kids."

The Northland could have paid $400 a month to stay in Berkeley, but that would have required them to raise annual membership fees. The present $7 fee keeps the program open to low-income teen-agers and minorities, Sheridan said.

Richmond officials aren't just leery of potential controversy.

Councilwoman Donna Powers noted the giveaway would violate a recently approved council policy of charging for the use of all city facilities.

"If you make an exception for the Sea Scouts, then when any other group in townwants to use something for free, they're going to throw it up in our face," she said.

But others argue that a free berth would mean a loss of much-needed revenue at the marina, which is nearly half empty and loses about $700,000 annually. The Sea Scouts already have two free berths at the marina and are asking for another for the sailing ship Ariel.

"I have nothing against the Sea Scouts," said Mayor Rosemary Corbin. "I just don't think we have to be the only marina in the area giving them free berths."

"We can't afford to subsidize four Sea Scout groups in the area," Powers said. "Why should we take on what everyone else refuses to do."

City staff also believe the 73-foot boat is too big for any of the vacant berths at the marina. They recommended that the Sea Scouts fill out an application and wait for an appropriate berth.

Despite her concerns about the city subsidizing the Sea Scouts, Powers said she can't abide scouting's discriminatory policy, which bars homosexuals and atheists from being members of any program run by the Boy Scouts.

"I know that they're caught between a rock and a hard place; they don't have anything to do with the national policy. But personally, I think it's offensive that they discriminate . I have gay friends. I have a gay cousin who died of HIV. I know how hard it can be to be treated differently."

Despite the national policy, the Northland has its own non-discrimination policy that allows it to actively recruit members without regard to sexual orientation or religious preferences.

"The kids have been heard loud and clear saying that they don't support discrimination against gays or atheists. And also the adult leadership has strong personal beliefs on that score," Sheridan said.

Richmond resident Chris Tallerico was so upset after reading about Berkeley booting the Sea Scouts that he showed up at a Richmond council meeting to encourage the city to give them a home.

"I went through Boy Scouts and I went through the Explorer program and I had a
great time with it. I think all kids ought to take part."

He said the local group shouldn't be penalized by the national policy.

"I would not as a straight person go to the City Council in San Francisco and have them kick the gay clubs out just because I don't like their ideas."

In exchange for waiving the monthly rental fee, about $355, Richmond would receive invaluable services from the Sea Scouts, Butt said.

"This is a terrific opportunity to get more scouting programs into Richmond," he said.

The Sea Scouts, formerly the Sea Explorers, provides training in seamanship, navigation, large boat handling and other nautical skills.

Butt suggests the city accommodate the Sea Scouts with three conditions:

- The city could terminate the lease for any reason with a 30-day notice if the unit engages in discrimination.

- The Sea Scout unit would be required to actively recruit and include a significant number of ethnically diverse Richmond residents, with a goal of 50 percent Richmond youth participation. About 35 percent of the Northland's crew is currently from Richmond.

- The unit would sign a standard marina lease agreement, which includes an anti-discrimination clause.

Councilman Nat Bates said he plans to support Butt's recommendation, which is scheduled to be considered by the council at its July 14 meeting.

"It's an activity that volunteers are putting together," Bates said. "There's no city staff involved. There's no city money involved."

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San Francisco Chronicle - 7/14/98

Sea Scouts Hoping To Berth in Richmond Berkeley ousted group over anti-gay policy

The Sea Scout troop that lost its free dock at the Berkeley Marina because of the Boy Scouts' controversial national policy banning gays and atheists is now hoping to find a home in Richmond's Marina Bay.

The Richmond City Council is scheduled to vote tonight on whether to allow the Sea Scout Ship Northland, a 73-foot vessel that is used as part of a youth seafaring program, to move to Richmond from Berkeley.

But the idea hasn't received a warm welcome in Richmond.

The Richmond City Manager's office is recommending against the docking, saying the marina has no available space broad enough to safely accommodate the ship and it already docks vessels for free from other Sea Scout programs.

``We believe we're already doing our fair share,'' said Assistant City Manager Leveron Bryant, who added that the acceptance of Northland might prompt other groups to seek free space -- at a loss of revenue to the marina.

Councilman Tom Butt, who is supporting the move, says he thinks Richmond would benefit by bringing the youth program to the city. About a third of the youths in the troop, still in Berkeley, are Richmond residents. Butt wants to allow the Northland to come to Richmond's Marina Bay on the condition that the program raise the Richmond youth participation to 50 percent.

Butt also said one of the current free users of Marina Bay is a Santa Rosa-based Sea Scouts program that serves youth outside the Diablo Boy Scout district, which includes Berkeley, Richmond and several other East Bay communities.

In May, the Berkeley City Council ended a 60-year tradition when it voted to deny free space to the Northland and a second Sea Scouts vessel because its parent group, the Boy Scouts of America, discriminates against gays and atheists. The berthing spaces would cost $12,000 a year -- costs that would be passed down to troop members.

But the Northland program serves underprivileged youth in one of the most ethnically diverse units of the Sea Scouts programs in the Bay Area, said a parent volunteer, Bryan Sheridan.

``If the kids had to pay, then only the kids with a lot of money could join and that's not really what we're about,'' said Sheridan.

Hoping to maintain the current program, the Sea Scouts approached the City of Richmond. The program serves youth from ages 14 through 19, teaching them nautical skills.

``These kids really are learning even though they don't realize it,'' Sheridan said. ``It's not like a classroom situation. All of a sudden they've learned how to read maps and navigate and how to tie knots.''

Butt said it is unfortunate that youth are being punished for the national policies of a parent organization.

``I do not agree with the national Boy Scouts policies on sexual preference but I believe what's happening here locally makes no sense,'' said Butt.

``This unit does not practice that policy. But instead of praising these people for being accepting, we're condemning them,'' Butt said.
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San Franciso Chronicle - 7/16/98

Richmond OKs Sea Explorer Ship City Council insists on anti-bias policy, defying Boy Scouts

A Sea Explorer scout troop snubbed by Berkeley because of a discrimination policy practiced by its parent group, the Boy Scouts of America, has found refuge in Richmond.

The Richmond City Council has approved the Sea Explorers' request for free berthing space at Marina Bay for the group's 74-foot powerboat, the Northland, and two smaller vessels that are used to teach boating skills to disadvantaged youth.

But the approval came under the condition that the Northland troop will practice a nondiscriminatory policy.

Tuesday night's vote was preceded by about 90 minutes of emotional debate that pitted two potent social issues -- discrimination and underprivileged young people -- against one another.

Residents arguing against the free berthing for the Sea Explorers said they do not want their tax dollars subsidizing an organization whose parent group practices discrimination against any group. In this case, the Boy Scouts of America has banned gays and atheists in a controversial policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in March.

``I don't think that property that belongs to the City of Richmond should be used to discriminate against anyone -- especially children,'' said Richmond resident Judith O'Hara. ``The Boy Scouts of America has a lot of money. They should pay.''

But speakers supporting the Sea Explorers, including residents of Richmond, Berkeley, El Cerrito and El Sobrante, distanced the Northland troop from the national Boy Scouts, arguing that the troop runs a worthy program that teaches young people of diverse backgrounds to work together, creating long-lasting friendships and careers.

``There is no discrimination within our group,'' said Doug Haight, a Sea Explorer volunteer from El Sobrante. ``I urge you not to take revenge against our youth over a national policy over which they have no control. Help make the boating community a little less privileged and exclusive.''

In the end, what seemed to impress the council most was that the Sea Explorer ship Northland, which has been based in Berkeley for the past 65 years, has its own anti-discrimination policy and that the troop's 15 members make up one of the most diverse Sea Explorer troops in the Bay Area.

``My vote in favor of this comes from my support of your defiance,'' said Councilman Alex Evans.

The council was so adamant that it does not tolerate discrimination that it ordered a six-month review of the Northland to make certain it is abiding by its own nondiscrimination policy -- which will be incorporated into the lease contract with Richmond.

It also added the condition that the Northland must strive to obtain a membership that includes 50 percent Richmond residents -- and a diversity reflecting the city's own.

The vote was 6 to 0, with Councilwoman Irma Anderson abstaining. Two members, Donna Powers and Lesa McIntosh, were absent.

Mayor Rosemary Corbin said she wants the Sea Explorers to take their nondiscriminatory policy a step further and actively recruit new members of underrepresented groups, including women and gays.

But Corbin's point was not part of the final motion that was passed, according to City Clerk Eula Barnes.

The council directed the harbormaster and the director of the port of Richmond to determine where the Northland can keep its boats. The largest of the three needs considerable space.

Just two months ago, the Berkeley City Council ended 60 years of giving free berths to the Sea Explorers, a program of the Boy Scouts of America, which owns the seafaring groups' vessels.

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Planet Out - 7/16/98

Sea Scouts' New SF Bay Berth

July 16, 1998 / 04:34 PM

SUMMARY: A San Francisco Bay Area Sea Explorers group will be shoving off again from Richmond, where the City Council anchored the deal with an anti-discrimination requirement.

After more than six decades of providing free docking for a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Sea Explorers group, the Berkeley, California City Council decided earlier this year that the city could no longer tolerate the national BSA's policy of discrimination against gay men and atheists. On July 14, the nearby Richmond City Council agreed unanimously (with one abstention and two absences) to allow the same group to use its Marina Bay facilities -- at no cost in dollars, but with a non-discrimination policy and a six-month performance review written right into the lease agreement, and a requirement that 50% of the group members be Richmond residents. The Sea Scouts group in question has never practiced discrimination, and Richmond Councilmember Alex Evans remarked, "My vote in favor of this comes from my support of your defiance."

Mayor Rosemary Corbin encouraged the Sea Scouts to actively recruit not only gays but women. The group has always been composed of disadvantaged youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity for boating, and who could not raise the thousands of dollars needed to pay for their boatslips. The Berkeley Councildecision had been spurred in part by a California Supreme Court ruling finding that BSA was not a "public accommodation" but a private club, and therefore not
bound by the state's civil rights laws.

 

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