GLAA Statement on DC Court of Appeals Decision in Boy Scouts Cases
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Scouting for All

GLAA on Boy Scouts

Statement of the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance on D.C. Court of Appeals Decision in Boy Scouts Cases

We are naturally disappointed by the D.C. Court of Appeals' ruling against the courageous gay plaintiffs, Michael Geller and Roland Pool, who first filed their complaints against the Boy Scouts a full ten years ago, in October 1992.

Obviously the Court felt its hands were tied by the Supreme Court's infamous 5-4 decision two years ago in the Dale case that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization entitled by a right of "expressive association" to discriminate against anyone at all.

We do not yet know whether Pool and Geller will appeal, as they do not consult with us on their plans and strategies. That decision is theirs alone.

But as activists for gay and lesbian civil rights, we suspect that a new strategy may be needed, one based on the realization that the right to "expressive association" is a two-edged sword: If the Boy Scouts are free to discriminate against gays (and against atheists, as the recent publicity about the expelled Port Orchard, Washington Eagle Scout reminds us), the government is not.

As many as one-quarter of all Boy Scout troops around the nation are sponsored by government agencies: public schools, police and fire departments, military bases, and the like. Agents of these government bodies are not free to indulge their religious, political, or social prejudices by discriminating on the basis of religion or sexual orientation.

Accordingly, as long as the current exclusionary policies of the Boy Scouts of America remain in effect, we believe any government sponsorship of the Boy Scouts is precluded.

Here in the District of Columbia, we were appalled to discover not long ago that several D.C. public schools are actively sponsoring Boy Scout troops and are thereby discriminating against gay and atheist boys. We have demanded that such activities cease at once because they are incompatible with our city's legal and moral commitment to equal rights for all. Ironically, if our demands are ignored, we will have standing to sue in court, which may result in a precedent-making decision that might end government entanglement with the Boy Scouts across the country.

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