Boy Scout council faces eviction over gays

June 14, 2010 at 3:37 PM   |   0 comments

PHILADELPHIA, June 14 (UPI) -- A Philadelphia Boy Scouts chapter faces eviction over its refusal to renounce the national organization's ban on gay members, observers say.

A Supreme Court decision in 2000 said the Boy Scouts, as a "membership organization," could exclude gay youths and troop leaders, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.

But the Philadelphia City Charter says otherwise, and the city says the local Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts is violating local rules in refusing to renounce the national policy, the newspaper said.

The city told the Scouts to vacate the 80-year-old headquarters they enjoyed rent-free or pay $200,000 a year to lease the property from the city.

The council, which represents 87,000 Boy Scouts in Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery Counties, says that's unconstitutional "coercion" violating the organization's rights to free speech and equal protection.

The matter now will go before a jury, the Inquirer said.

Since the organization can decide who its members are, the city's effort "to take that benefit away unless the Boy Scouts forgo a constitutionally protected right is a violation" of free speech, Jason P. Gosselin, an attorney for the scouts, said.

In court filings, the city says it is trying to "regulate conduct, not speech."

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