scouts-l Mail Archive for May of 2000: Re: Open to the public
Rik Bergethon (rberg@RMI.NET
Sat May 06 2000 - 08:57:26 CDT
Larry et al:
Yes, the "open to the public" clause of New Jersey's case was the
beginning of the suit. As I understand it, that public accommodations
law (banning discrimination against gays) was the law that Dale VS BSA
was started under. Various sides lost (us and them) until it went to the
NJ supreme court, where somebody decided to take it all the way to the
U.S. Supreme Court (I believe we did). If, under New Jersey's
definition, we are a public accommodation, we lose. If, under New
Jersey's law, we are found to be a private organization, we win.
However, now at the Supreme court, we are saying it's our rules, and we
say no gays. We are not a public accommodation or organization at all.
It was said that about thirty "friends of the court" filings were made
on our behalf, mostly by religious groups, also fearing that if we lose,
they will be the next group to be tested. While BSA and most churches
are open to the public for membership or worship, everyone wants to
control who really comes into our house. Many churches have outreach
programs for the various types of sinners, but they all want people of
good moral, religious standing to be members of their fold. The BSA does
and so do the churches. That is the problem with our case. We consider
homosexuality to not be of good moral character. Most churches do too.
So what is next? The Supreme Court telling all the churches they have
to let anybody in, even of questionable moral character? That is why, in
my opinion, they are worried too about this.
Somebody, who is not Mormon, told me at a training session last
weekend, (when the case was argued last Wednesday) on Friday following,
the Mormon church announced if BSA loses this case, the Mormon church
will drop scouting as part of its ministry, almost half a million scouts
and scouters. We have to take that with a grain of salt right now, as I
have not read it in the paper yet.
A few years ago two of us volunteers applied to be a professional
(DE). It was discovered in the background check of the other applicant
that he was fired from the local school district for sexual assault on a
child while a teacher. He was de-registered and told to not have any
involvement in scouting again. Luckily, both his twin boys had already
achieved their Eagle. I thought this guy was a great scouter, I took
most of my early training from him. What a shock to find out he wasn't
of good moral character or morally straight. We all accepted it and went
on about our scouting business. "OK, ______ is gone, lets move on. Who
will take his position?" You find another volunteer and keep going for
the program and for the boys.
BSA has come under fire from other groups for their policies and use of
public facilities, because we do limit our participation. Out west, some
cities' United Way moneys have stopped because we don't allow gays to be
leaders, but do use public facilities to meet in. I haven't heard if
that was resolved or not. Personally, I have quit giving to the United
In my opinion, this case in the Supreme Court right now, has to do
with: Can the BSA ban gays from being leaders or not, and is it
"morally straight" to be gay? I don't think the public accommodations
law is involved any more. That part of the case was omitted a long time
ago. Mr. Dale just wants to be a Boy Scout leader, and be gay. We say
you are not morally straight if you are gay. So do a lot of churches.
Where will this go?