Ruling in Pool and Geller v. BSA 06/21/01
Summersgill speaks at Scouting for All rally
Lafayette Square, Washington, DC
Saturday, August 25, 2001
Comments by Bob Summersgill
President, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Last year the US Supreme Court ruled against Eagle Scout James Dale and affirmed the Boy Scout's policy of exclusion and discrimination because the Boy Scouts are a private club.
Other private clubs such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi party promote their values and promote discrimination. The Supreme Court ruled that such groups have a right to teach discrimination and that the Boy Scouts are no different.
Obviously not all Boy Scouts or Scout leaders accept or promote this policy. Most didn't know about it until the handful of right-wing leaders of the national organization started expelling gay Eagle Scouts. It is this small group that is ripping the Scouts apart and bringing dishonor to Scouts everywhere. It is this small group that for the first time has argued that the Scouts are not for "All Boys" but rather that they are a private club.
Now we are starting to treat them as a private club, as they have asked.
Private, discriminatory clubs do not receive preferential treatment by the Government. The Scouts are losing public funding. The Scouts are losing private support. The Scouts are even losing their troops.
One of the stories not often told is what happened to the Boy Scout troop that James Dale volunteered for in New Jersey when the Scouts expelled him. The troop disbanded for lack of leadership-leadership that the Boy Scouts themselves ejected.
Rather than have one gay leader - a leader who had proven his dedication and skill as a leader through the Boy Scouts' own program - the Boy Scouts of America allowed a troop to disband depriving Scouting for those boys.
There is still more to be done. Private, discriminatory clubs do not receive federal funding. They do not keep their Congressional Charters. They do not get free military transportation to their jamborees. And they do not get to use Fort A. P. Hill for their jamborees without charge.
And they do not keep the President of the United States as their Honorary Chairman.
Here in the District of Columbia, the Office of Human Rights and the Commission on Human Rights have rejected the idea that the Scouts are a private club. Our legal definitions and the Scouts otherwise indiscriminate recruiting policies and size make them a public accommodation.
The Commission on Human Rights have found the Scouts to be in violation of the DC Human Rights Act. The Scouts have been ordered to pay two Eagle Scouts $50,000 each plus lawyers fees for their violations.
Most remarkably, the Commission on Human Rights based their decision on the arguments outlined in the Dale case last year. While the Scouts may expel a leader who is a gay rights advocate, they may not expel a Scout or a leader simply for being Gay. The Scouts are appealing the case, but our task remains the same.
1. We must demand that the DC Government sever support for the Boy Scouts until they drop their illegal discrimination.
GLAA has worked with DC Councilmember Jack Evans and the School Board in setting a policy of no special privileges for the Scouts. They must not recruit in the schools. The schools must not sponsor them. And the Scouts must not be given preferential access to the schools. Write to School Board Superintendent Paul Vance and ask him to end the special support of the Scouts in DC Schools.
2. We must demand that the United Way/National Capital Area adhere to its own policy of only listing organizations that do not discriminate and are in compliance with all local anti-discrimination laws. The Boy Scouts have actually been stating on their forms to the United Way that they are in compliance with the law and do not discriminate. So much for Honest, Loyal and Brave. The United Way has not responded to GLAA's letter from June 22, 2001. Call the United Way and ask them why. Take a look at the exchange of letters on GLAA's website. www.glaa.org.
3. Make sure that your Church, Synagogue, Mosque or group doesn't sponsor a Boy Scout or Cub Scout Troop. The vast majority of Scout Troops are sponsored by Churches. Conservative Churches with explicitly anti-gay policies such as the Mormons and Catholics are behind the Boy Scout Policy.
Reform Judaism has moved to sever ties with the Boy Scouts. The Unitarians are being cut off by their stand against discrimination. Other religious groups should follow their lead.
The Boy Scouts must ask themselves whether they want to retain a place in American culture where they are everywhere and serve all boys - or whether they want to be a private club, withdrawn from the mainstream, and promoting long discarded prejudices.
The decision is up to the Boy Scouts, but we must not let them promote discrimination with the government's support.