Fwd: 4/10: Update on Berkeley Scout Situation
Fri Apr 10 21:43:41 1998
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Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 11:00:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mike Montalvo <email@example.com>
Subject: 4/10: Update on Berkeley Scout Situation
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4/10/98: Berkeley, Boy Scouts ready for battle over free berths
BERKELEY -- The next move in the city's showdown with the Boy Scouts
of America over gay rights rests with the City Council, and it
promises to be a heated battle.
The Berkeley Waterfront Commission voted 5-3 Wednesday to accept two
Sea Explorer Scout troops' new anti-discrimination policies and let
them keep their free berths in the city marina.
The final decision rests with the City Council, however, and some
council members are determined to tell the Boy Scouts of America that
discrimination is intolerable and that their free ride at the marina
is over. But others believe the council will fight and bicker to score
political points before allowing the Scouts to remain in the marina
"They'll posture around, but in the long run cooler heads will
prevail," said Councilwoman Betty Olds, who supports the Scouts.
At issue is scouting's long-standing policy barring gays and atheists,
which flies in the face of a Berkeley ordinance requiring any
organization receiving free city services to embrace nondiscrimination.
The city wants the Sea Explorer Scout troops, the Northland and
Farallon, to obey the policy or lose two berths at the marina they've
held for decades. The issue has simmered for weeks as the troops tried
to hammer out a compromise between the city and the Mt.
Diablo-Silverado Council, scouting's local governing body.
On Wednesday, leaders from the two troops offered a new policy that
prohibits religious discrimination and states, "We believe that sexual
orientation is a private matter, and we do not ask either adults or
youths to divulge this information at any time."
"We are willing to obey the city's laws as good Scouts and good
citizens," said Bryan Sheridan, a spokesman for the Northland. "From
our perspective, we're not changing anything. We will continue to
operate as we always have, with no discrimination toward anyone."
Although many commissioners said they wanted the troops to take a
firmer stand, most felt the revised policy was a step in the right
"I think this is a significant change from the national policy," said
Commissioner Brad Smith. "This is a good beginning."
But others, including some council members, likened the policy to the
military's "don't ask, don't tell" guidelines and worry gay Scouts
will be welcome only if they keep quiet.
"'Don't ask, don't tell' doesn't work nationally, and it won't work
locally," said Councilman Kriss Worthington.
The issue promises to be a political hot potato when it comes before
the council sometime next month. Three council members -- including
Mayor Shirley Dean -- face re-election, and some City Hall insiders
don't expect the council to come down hard on the Scouts.
The issue is drawing mixed reactions and is sure to prompt widespread
public comment during upcoming council meetings. Many people denounce
scouting's policy as discriminatory and want the city to make a stand
by revoking the free berths.
"All we're saying is, you can't use taxpayer money to support any
entity that discriminates against other people," said Councilwoman
Diane Woolley. "It's a very simple issue for me."
But others take the city to task, saying it is challenging the Boy
Scouts of America at the expense of children.
"The kids are the ones you'll be hurting if you go through with this,"
John Rantzman told the commission. "You won't affect the national
program one bit. This is liberalism run amok."
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