Monday, November 19, 2007

BSA with anti-gay policy in the news again in Philadelphia


Well, maybe this is not exactly the plot of the 1940 classic "The Philadelphia Story."

The Boy Scouts of America, and its policy of excluding persons who do not have religious faith or practice homosexual conduct, is back in the news again as BSA chapters try to use public facilities for free or for below-market rent. Dafna Linzer has a story on page A3 to the Monday Nov. 19, 2007 Washington Post, "Philadelphia Gives Boy Scouts Ultimatum: City Solicitor Tells Branch to Renounce Its Ban on Gays or Lose Rent Subsidy." The story is here.

It is well known that the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts, as a "private" organization, could establish any criteria they wanted for membership. The case was "Boy Scouts of America et al v. Dale," (James Dale) Findlaw opinion copy here. Public accommodations would be a different matter, as would employment, maybe (below). Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL) actually wrote am amicus brief supporting the BSA on libertarian grounds in 2000. I actually reviewed some of the drafts. Here is George Will's column from March 26, 2000, pB07, The Washington Post, here (PDF). There is a summary of the brief on Findlaw here.

Apparently a local chapter tried to skirt BSA rules and ran into objections by the national organization.

The issue of BSA employment practices is mentioned. It is not absolutely clear if this refers to "civilian" employees of the organization, who might be treated differently from scout masters by the anti-gay policy (in a manner analogous to comparing uniformed members of the Armed Forces to civilian DOD employees, sometimes with security clearances). The BSA sometimes appeared a job fairs in Dallas (it is located in Irving, not too far from Texas Stadium, DFW Airport and Highway 183) for computer programmers in the 1980s. The news story indicated that the local BSA chapter had a "don't ask don't tell" policy for employees, and implies that this was not satisfactory to the national organization.

I have never personally considered employment (even as a technician) with a religious or political organization or organization with a specific "moral" agenda (for example Focus of the Family in Colorado Springs). These have always been on my personal "off limits" list. Apparently these organizations would be exempted by the version of ENDA that passed the House.

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