There are, however, many young men who find a home in the Scouts and aspire to be coveted troop leaders. They earn their badges the same as the others yet according to the Boy Scouts, being a homosexual isn't consistent with its mission to "instill in young people lifetime values and develop in them ethical character."
These "values" were challenged before the Supreme Court in 2000. The court eventually gave the Boys Scouts of America a free badge to discriminate against gays, atheists and agnostics under the guise of Freedom of Speech. The battle didn't end there, though. Since then, local governments have been giving the BSA one big collective mud pie to the face. Over the last six years local governments have fought against the discriminatory ruling by forcing the organization to pay for space they were previously being granted for free. The message from the Supreme Court: Discriminate all you want. The message from local States: You may have been given the right to discriminate, but they didn't say we had to allow you to do it for free. The Scout's problem: Some local chapter membership is down and they can't afford to pay for the space they use.
In the latest legal battle, the California Supreme Court ruled that city of Berkeley can refuse to grant the Berkeley Sea Scouts free use of a public marina because of their discriminatory policies. Two years ago, Connecticut removed the group from its list of charities that receive donations from state employees. In Philadelphia, the Boy Scouts face eviction from their city-owned headquarters. They must pay rent or change their policies. The Scouts are also being challenged in separate cases for requiring their members to swear before God.
Despite these setbacks, BSA believes the federal courts will once again protect their policies, "The issue of governments seeking to punish organizations for exercising their First Amendment rights is a recurring one. There will be other opportunities for the Supreme Court to affirm First Amendment protections for organizations dealing with government agencies," says Boy Scouts attorney George Davidson. Until then, I hope they can pay the rent.
Scouting for All
Boy Scout News:
Boy Scouts: Wiccans Not Welcome, Liars Just Fine
Boy Scouts Must Disclose Sexual Abuse History
Images: Logo, © Boy Scouts of America; Boots, © Mike Johnson; Trees, © Can Berkol.