Discriminating Against the Boy Scouts
by Hans Zeiger
12 March 2004
State of Connecticut has won its court case and will continue to exclude
the Boy Scouts from its state employee charitable campaign.
On Monday, the U.S.
Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the Boy Scouts of America after
a federal court ruled last year that the State of Connecticut can exclude
the Scouts from its state employee charitable campaign. As a result, Connecticut
will continue to discriminate against the Boy Scouts because the Scouts'
policy excluding homosexuals doesn't match Connecticut's "anti-discrimination
Of note, organizations that have declared war on Boy Scouting principles
-- ACLU, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Public Citizen, Greenpeace,
the National Abortion Rights Action League, and the National Organization
for Women -- continue to receive thousands of dollars each year from the
Connecticut State Employees' Campaign for Charitable Giving. And even though
the state has enthusiastically defended its removal of the Boy Scouts from
the state employee charitable list, it gives prominent place to homosexual
front groups like the Hartford Gay/Lesbian Health Collective and Parents
and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
In refusing to challenge the State of Connecticut's discriminatory "anti-discrimination"
policy, the Supreme Court has set itself against the autonomy of groups like
the American Legion and Campus Crusade for Christ, who filed friend-of-the-court
briefs in support of the Scouts in the case.
It was in 2000 that the Supreme Court held by a vote of 5 to 4 in the case of Boy Scouts of America v. Dale
that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of free
association for the Boy Scouts. And that goes for the ACLU as well as the
Scouts, for the College Republicans as well as the College Democrats, for
the Catholic Church as well as the Presbyterian Church or the Jewish synagogue.
Private organizations can choose their own members because that's what makes
Private organizations must balance between inclusion and exclusion, and when,
in the case of the Boy Scouts, membership requires uncompromising moral duty,
exclusion is vital to the organization's mission. The Boy Scouts bar homosexuals
and atheists from membership and leadership because homosexuality and atheism
are in direct contradiction to the principles of Scouting.
Of course, government can reasonably restrict the activities of organizations
that harm people or discriminate against individuals on the basis of factors
like race and national origin. But the Boy Scouts excludes on the basis of
character, which is all the more reason to support the Scouts rather than
Congress first approved a national charter -- an honorary piece of paper
stating that Congress supports the patriotic, educational, or scientific
goals of an organization and that the organization that holds the charter
is guaranteed rights to its name in perpetuity -- for the Boy Scouts of America
in 1916. Congress did this in full recognition of the Scouts' right to discriminate.
Other organizations with discriminatory membership standards have unquestioned
Congressional charters. It is the policy of one charter holder, the Catholic
War Veterans, that "an applicant shall be a member of the Catholic Church"
in addition to having served in the armed forces. Another chartered group,
the Jewish War Veterans, requires its members to be Jewish. And the Veterans
of Foreign Wars includes only veterans who participated in military campaigns
and battles. "The fundamental difference between our Organization and other
veteran organizations, and one in which we take great pride, is our eligibility
qualifications," says the VFW Eligibility Requirements.
If the Connecticut State Employees' Campaign for Charitable Giving can deliver
funding to the nation's most radical Leftist organizations, surely it can
do the same for a decent organization like the Boy Scouts of America. The
Supreme Court has refused to act in this matter, so it's up to state employees
and citizens in Connecticut to get the point across to state officials now.
Citizens of Connecticut can email CSEC Director Jan Gwudz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (860)571-7553.
Ms. Gwudz needs to know that the Boy Scouts isn't a militant hate group whose
purpose is to wage war against homosexuals and atheists. The Scouts teach
respect and compassion. They also teach a code of behavior on the basis of
a Scout's honor. To compromise on that properly discriminatory code for the
sake of Connecticut's unjustly discriminatory "anti-discrimination code"
would be to destroy everything for which the Boy Scouts of America has stood
for 94 years.
Hans Zeiger is a Seattle Times
columnist and conservative activist. He is president of the Scout Honor Coalition
and a student at Hillsdale College in Michigan.
Email Hans Zeiger
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