The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the ruling Thursday, overturning a lower court decision that San Diego was taking part in discrimination by leasing the property to the Boy Scouts, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
Two couples, one lesbian, the other agnostic, filed a lawsuit against the city, which they said was subsidizing discriminatory practices by leasing the land at a steeply discounted rate.
"The Boy Scouts discriminate against people who don't believe in God and who are gay and lesbian," said Drew Woodmansee, an attorney for the couples. "The city in effect subsidizes that form of discrimination, and we believe it needs to stop."
The 25-year leases are for Balboa Park -- at $1 rent per year -- and waterfront property on Fiesta Island in Mission Bay Park -- for free. In exchange, the Boy Scouts of America must make capital improvements of $1.7 million and $1.5 million respectively, the Times reported.
John Eastman, a constitutional law professor at Chapman University School of Law, called the ruling "clearly the right decision."
"The Boy Scouts ought to be getting a medal for the public service they are providing rather than being on the receiving end of lawsuits," said John Eastman, a constitutional law professor at Chapman University School of Law.