Expelled Scout Leader David Knapp (center) marches in uniform with members of New Haven PFLAG.
Gay men can't be good role models.
At least not according to the Boy Scouts of America, who in 1990 publicly expelled a former Eagle Scout named James Dale when Scout leadership learned Dale is gay. To Scout leadership, Dale's sexual orientation meant that, among other things, he could not fulfill a core component of the Boy Scout oath. As a gay man, Dale couldn't be "morally clean and straight."
Dale filed suit, and the case went to the United States Supreme Court, which in 2000 issued a decision affirming the Boy Scouts' right to expel him. As a private organization, the Court said, the Boy Scouts had a First Amendment right to freedom of association, and could discriminate against gay adult scout leaders.
But even before the Dale decision, in the early 1990s, the Boy Scouts' public declaration of their antigay policy prompted organizations and municipalities from California to Florida to sever ties with the Boy Scouts. Some lost their legal fights. But some won.
In GLAD's 2000 victory, Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman, a federal court of appeals affirmed the strength of Connecticut's state nondiscrimination law—and nondiscrimination laws throughout the country—by upholding the state's decision to exclude the Boy Scouts from the state charitable campaign.
In the end, the Boy Scouts couldn't have it both ways—excluding gays from participation while enjoying the benefits of a state program that requires non-discrimination.
The Scout Oath: "On my honor I will do my best to discriminate against gays..."
Steve Benson, The Arizona Republic.
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