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Boy Scouts Not Forced to Pitch a Bigger Tent According to Supreme Court Ruling, FRC Says; 'It is Not the Role of Government to Dictate Who Should Share a Pup Tent With Boy Scouts,' FRC's LaRue Says.

WASHINGTON, June 28 /PRNewswire/ --

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to determine their own membership standards, and that forcing the Boy Scouts to accept homosexuals as Scout leaders violates the Scouts' freedom of speech and federal constitutional rights as a private association. "The right of a private organization to determine its own membership and message are fundamental Constitutional rights," said Jan LaRue, Senior Director of Legal Studies for Family Research Council (FRC). "It is not the role of government to decide who should share a pup tent with the Scouts, who is fit to be a Scoutmaster, and what message the Scouts should deliver about homosexuality."

At issue in this case, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, is New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination, which forced the Scouts to accept homosexuals as Scout leaders. The New Jersey Supreme Court had held that the Scouts are a public accommodation, like a hotel or restaurant, and therefore subject to New Jersey's law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court reversed that ruling.

"If the Supreme Court had ruled the other way, it could have forced the NAACP to accept a Ku Klux Klan member, the B'Nai Brith to accept Catholics, and the Knights of Columbus to accept Jews as members and leaders," Mrs. LaRue said. "Every private association would have had to look like and believe whatever the government said."

Robert Knight, FRC's Senior Director of Cultural Studies and an Eagle Scout himself, said, "The Scouts have a special interest in ensuring that homosexuality not intrude into the scouting experience: homosexual groups are targeting young students in schools and in campaigns to lower the age of sexual consent. The Scouts cannot afford to put sexually confused men into leadership roles."

"The Supreme Court has confirmed that the Boy Scouts are not an appendage of the state, and the government cannot force them to accept leaders who do not share their core principles," Mrs. LaRue said. "Telling the Boy Scouts they are a public accommodation is like telling them they are no different from a bus station. The Boy Scouts deserve to be protected as a private youth organization, dedicated to moral living and leadership, and remain free from state dictate."
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 28, 2000
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