In one of the final steps of a long-running attack on the Boy Scouts’ Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia, the city council has voted to renege on a 1928 ordinance allowing the Scouts to have their headquarters in a building on a parcel of public land “in perpetuity.”
The reason? The Scouts disqualify homosexuals as leaders for troops of young boys.
The word came through one of the organizations that encouraged the city to put the scouting organization, which ranks as about the third-largest local council in the nation, serving more than 80,000 boys and men, out of its headquarters.
Earlier city officials in San Francisco and Boston made similar decisions displacing the Scouts because of their behavior code requiring “moral straightness.”
The nearly 80-year-old Philadelphia ordinance had granted the Scouts the use of a facility forever, but the city changed its commitment because of the Scouts’ ban on homosexuals and the city’s policies “abhorring discrimination.”
City councilman Darrell Clarke’s resolution said, “The City of Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter and the City’s Fair Practices Ordinance reflect broad City policy abhorring discrimination and the Boy Scouts’ policy and conduct is directly contrary to the principles of equal access and opportunity enshrined in Philadelphia law.”
He said the Scouts’ use of a building was “contrary” to the city’s opposition to discrimination.
Leaders for Equality Advocates Pennsylvania praised the decision, noting the decision is “a strong stand against sexual orientation discrimination.”
While the Scouts have programs for young people, said Stacey Sobel, the group’s executive director, “They … should not be able to use taxpayers’ dollars to discriminate against others.”
The 1928 ordinance can be ended with a year’s notice, which was delivered on July 20, 2006, officials said. The latest vote is the formal decision to go forward with completion of that move.
Homosexual organizations earlier had challenged the Scouts’ policy itself, but lost at the U.S. Supreme Court level, where a 2000 ruling confirmed that as a private group, the Scouts could set restrictions for their leaders.
The “gay” groups then turned their sights on arrangements such as that in Philadelphia, where the Scouts had been using a parcel of public property, with some maintenance costs but not a fair-market rent, for years.
The Philadelphia Scouting council in 2003 said it would adopt a nondiscrimination policy on homosexuals, but reversed itself within weeks and then dismissed an 18-year-old who publicly announced his homosexuality during that time period.
Former WND columnist Hans Zeiger, who wrote a book about the Scouts and their battles, “Get Off My Honor: The Assault on the Boy Scouts of America,” said the Boy Scouts since 1911 have been reaching out to the disabled, racial and ethnic minorities, Native Americans and inner city children with the lessons of right and wrong.
“When it comes to a Scout troop, sexual orientation is an issue that goes beyond differences in skin color or economic status. It affects such matters as tenting arrangements and the development of pre-teenage masculinity in a close-knit group of boys and men,” he wrote.
“The BSA’s position against homosexuality is not just an issue of moral principle in an effort to affirm the Scout Oath and Law, it is a serious safety effort to prevent cases of sexual abuse and harassment,” he wrote.
“So here’s what I say to the radical Left in the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed … Take away the funding. Seize the 75-year-old headquarters building. The Scouts can survive without it,” he wrote at the time.
WND also reported recently that the Scouts had turned in a victory, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit dismissed a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union to stop the Defense Department from allowing the Boy Scouts of America to hold its National Jamboree every four years at Fort A.P. Hill in Fredericksburg, Va.
The ACLU, suing on behalf of individual named taxpayers, had argued allowing the Boy Scouts to hold the event on public property is an unconstitutional establishment of religion, because the organization’s membership is limited to those who believe in God.
The ACLU points out the Boy Scouts require members to swear an oath to “do my duty to God and my country.”
The court ruled the ACLU did not show standing to bring the lawsuit.