Philadelphia Sets Deadline for Boy Scouts to Renounce Anti-Gay Policy

The city of Philadelphia is threatening to end a nearly 80-year building agreement with the nation's third Boy Scouts chapter if the group doesn't change its policy to accommodate gay employees.

All members of the local Scouts chapter, which operates as the Cradle of Liberty Council, must take the Scout Oath and Law in which they promise to do their duty to God and to be morally straight, as well as to be clean in their thoughts, words and deeds.

While the organization does not inquire about sexual orientation at the time of membership, the group bars an avowed homosexual from leadership because they believe such an individual would not be a role model for the values espoused in the Oath and Law, according to a past news release from Boy Scouts of America.

A 2000 Supreme Court ruling upheld the right of the national Boy Scouts to exclude openly gay members from its ranks since it was a private organization.

However, Philadelphia City Solicitor Romulo Diaz said the group's currently policy amounts to discrimination and has set a Dec. 3 deadline for the Boy Scouts to either renounce their moral standards or lose the headquarters they have rented from the city for $1 a year since 1928, reported the Washington Post.

According to Diaz, the Boy Scouts' policy conflicts with a local 1982 "fair practice" law which prohibits employers from conditioning employment on the basis of "sexual orientation."

"While we respect the right of the Boy Scouts to prohibit participation in its activities by homosexuals, we will not subsidize that discrimination by passing on the costs to the people of Philadelphia," the Post reported Diaz as saying.

City officials have suggested that the Scouts can stay at the Beaux-Arts building if they agree to pay the building's market value price which is tentatively set at $200,000 a year.

If the Scouts refuse the ultimatum, Diaz said he will begin looking for alternative tenants to take over the property June 1, 2008.

While the offer may seem fair, Robert Knight of the Media Research Center wrote in a column posted on Tuesday that the Post report left out many key facts to the dispute.

The Beaux-Arts building was in fact built by the Scouts and later given to the city in 1928, noted Knight.

He added that the Scouts had a lease "in perpetuity" with the city, an agreement that was not upheld by the City Council.

Knight also suggested that that the city stands to benefit greatly from the youth organization, noting that most of the crimes dealing with murder and violence are committed by fatherless young men.

In an interview on "Hannity & Colmes" Tuesday, Jeff Jubelirer, spokesman for Boy Scouts of America, said the group had already modified its policy with a non-discrimination statement issued by city officials.

The non-discrimination statement reads: "Prejudice, intolerance and unlawful discrimination in any form are unacceptable within the ranks of Cradle of Liberty Council."

According to Jubelirer, the group was assured "that if you adopt this, we'll be fine, and nothing has happened since that time."

The local chapter has also in the past tried to renounce an affiliation with the national policy in hopes of saving its headquarters but has met difficulties.

"We were trying to be amendable to all sides, but National would not allow us to keep that language, so we rescinded it," said Jubelirer in the Post report. "We can't have a policy where we put in specific words that National won't allow or we'll loose our charter. We can't afford not to be part of the national Boy Scouts."

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