Ruling in Pool and Geller v. BSA 06/21/01
Summersgill asks local United Way CEO for answers on Boy Scouts eligibility
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, DC 20013
October 4, 2001
Mr. Norman O. Taylor
Chief Executive Officer
United Way National Capital Area
95 M Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
Dear Mr. Taylor:
We would like to know if the United Way National Capital Area plans to honor its own policies for determining which organizations are eligible for funding. My letter of June 22, 2001, to Ms. Marlena Lanham-Tracey concerning the Boy Scouts received no response at all.
Previously, on October 30, 2000, Ms. Lanham-Tracy stated in a letter to GLAA "All organizations applying to be listed in the United Way Campaign must certify that they observe a policy and practice of non-discrimination and are in compliance with their local human rights office before they are deemed eligible. This is our policy."
This is consistent with your website which states, "All 501(c)3 organizations wishing to be included in the Campaign must apply and be approved on an annual basis. To be approved, an organization must comply with pre-determined criteria, including the following: . Observe a policy of and practice non-discrimination."
The District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights ruled on June 21, 2001 that the Boy Scouts of America National Capital Area Council is in violation of the DC Human Rights Act. They have been ordered to cease and desist in violating the law and ordered to pay $100,000 in damages plus legal fees to Eagle Scouts Roland Pool and Michael Geller who brought their complaint in 1992. Both men must be allowed to take up leadership positions in the Scouts. The full 75-page order is online at: http://www.glaa.org/archive/2001/bsaruling0621.shtml.
The National Capital Area Council is appealing this decision and has made no move to comply with the Commission on Human Rights' order. Whether or not they are successful in court, their actions in defending their policy of excluding gay scouts and scout leaders is clear evidence of both a policy and practice of discrimination. In fact their legal strategy is premised on the idea that they have a right to discriminate. Further they have falsely certified that they have "a policy of and practice nondiscrimination" in their applications for participation in the United Way for at least a decade.
While all Area Councils are required to follow the BSA National Council policy of discrimination, many Councils are challenging the policy. At least one BSA Area Council, Piedmont in California, has publicly stated it does not follow the National Council's policy of discrimination. It is our view that the National Capital Area BSA must make such a statement, readmit Pool and Geller, and comply with the Human Rights Commission's order if it is to be eligible to be listed in the UW Campaign. Otherwise, it does not appear the National Capital Area Council is eligible to receive funding through an organization such as yours, which has committed itself to nondiscrimination.
Please let us know if the District of Columbia United Way intends to continue to list the Boy Scouts in future fundraising appeals in violation of your own stated policy. Thank you.