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For week ended January 16, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Supreme Court Case on Gays in Scouts could affect LDS Church
Associated Press 14Jan00 N1
By Laurie Asseo: Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON DC -- The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal in the case of a former New Jersey Scout leader who was kicked out of Scouting after the Boy Scouts of America learned he is homosexual. The Boys Scouts of America appealed the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court last summer, which ruled that the BSA in not a private organization, but a "public accommodation." The LDS Church filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with the BSA in that case.

The BSA claims that the New Jersey state law banning discrimination against homosexuals in public accommodations violates the BSA's rights of free speech and free association under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. "Scouting adheres to a moral belief ... that homosexual conduct is not moral," said the BSA's lawyer, George A. Davidson, after learning that the Court would hear the case. "Boy Scouting is really all about sending messages. The message is that you should be morally straight."

The case involves former assistant scoutmaster James Dale, who, at age 20, was identified in a newspaper article as co-president of the Rutgers University campus lesbian and gay student group. At the time the former Eagle Scout, was also serving as assistant scoutmaster in the same troop in which he had earned his Eagle. The BSA's Monmouth Council then revoked Dale's registration as an adult leader.

His attorney says that opposition to homosexuality is not one of the Scouts' main purposes, "As gay people we know how important the First Amendment is," said lawyer Evan Wolfson of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "Their First Amendment rights are not being interfered with. The members did not join the Boy Scouts for bigotry in the first place."

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case in April and decide by July. The LDS Church uses the scouting program as an integral part of its program for young men. A decision against the BSA could have significant effects on the LDS Church's program.


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