Scouts pay for ban on gays

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The Philadelphia chapter of the Boy Scouts of America is facing a heavy price, in the form of $200,000 (£97,680) in rent per year, for its National Council’s stubborn stance against admitting gays.

Previously the Boy Scouts of America’s Cradle of Liberty Council paid $1 a year to locate its headquarters in a historic, city-owned building.

According to reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer, city officials raised the amount charged to the organisation because they can’t legally rent taxpayer-owned property for a dollar a year to a private organisation that discriminates.

“It’s disappointing, and it’s certainly a threat,” Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for Cradle of Liberty Council, told the Associated Press regarding the rent increase, which will go into effect should the scouts stay in their current location past May 31st, 2008.

The money “would have to come from programmes,” Jubelirer added.

“That’s 30 new Cub Scout packs, or 800 needy kids going to our summer camp.”

The lease first came into question after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2000 indicated that the Scouts, as a private organisation, has a First Amendment right of “expressive association” to set their own membership rules, which currently prohibit membership by anyone who is openly gay.

Years of discussions between the city and the Cradle of Liberty Council ended abruptly on May 31st, when the City Council voted 16-1 to authorise ending the lease with Cradle of Liberty Council.

Bryan Ochalla © 2007; All Rights Reserved.