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Discriminating Against the Boy Scouts
by Hans Zeiger
12 March 2004Boy Scouts

The 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 code."

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 organizations unique.

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 condemn them.

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 jan.gwudz@po.state.ct.us 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
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