PENNSYLVANIA – A federal judge threw out claims that the Boy Scouts and a Pennsylvania church let scoutmasters sexually abuse a teenage scout in the 1960s.
The 59-year-old Floridian identified in court documents as John Doe sued the East Hills Moravian Church Inc., of Bethlehem, Pa.; the New Jersey-headquartered Boy Scouts of America Inc. and its Allentown, Pa.-based Minsi Trails Council Inc.; as well as Scoutmaster Mike Jacobs and Assistant Scoutmaster Don Levine, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania last year.
The scoutmasters allegedly sexually abused and molested Doe dozens of times during his teenage years in Pennsylvania, the complaint says.
The plaintiff alleges defendants “concealed their respective and sometime overlapping institutional child abuse problem for the purpose and with the result of preventing abuse survivors from understanding their own abuse and defendants’ role in it and thereby delay and prevent victims, including plaintiff, from filing suit.”
The complaint asserts state law claims for sexual abuse, emotional distress, fraud by omission, constructive fraud and a claim under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act.
The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint as time-barred by the two-year statute of limitations and for failure to state a claim.
Doe countered that “PTSD, child abuse syndrome, compartmentalization, avoidance, dissociative amnesia or denial” kept him from discovering the causal relationship between the alleged abuse and the defendants’ roles … until 2011, when the Oregon Supreme Court ordered the Boy Scouts to release certain “secret perversion files.”
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Schmehl dismissed the complaint last week, holding the alleged sexual assaults were “immediately discoverable.”
“Plaintiff does not allege that he was not aware that the abuse was occurring at the time it was occurring or that he did not know the identity of the perpetrators,” Schmehl wrote. “The fact that plaintiff may hay have later suffered a mental capacity to remember the abuse is irrelevant. It is also irrelevant that plaintiff did not become aware that he may have a cause of action against the defendants until 2011. As a result, the court finds that reasonable minds could not differ that plaintiff was aware of his injury and its cause at the time of the injury itself. As a result, the court finds that the discovery rule does not apply as a matter of law.”
The fraudulent concealment doctrine does not apply either, the ruling states.
“Plaintiff alleges that the Boy Scout defendants ‘were aware or should have been aware of the pedophilia threat in any Boy Scout Troop between 1966 and 1969, having secreted the collections of thousands of Ineligible Volunteers of Perversion files of Scoutmasters,’” Schmehl wrote. “Such a general allegation of concealment, without any additional affirmative act of concealment, has been held by Pennsylvania courts not to constitute fraudulent concealment for the purpose of tolling the statute of limitations.”
The judge dismissed Doe’s claims as time-barred.”Since, according to plaintiff’s own allegations, the latest assault on plaintiff would have taken place in 1969 when plaintiff was 15 years old, plaintiff had until 1971 to assert claims against the defendants,” Schmehl wrote. “Since plaintiff did not commence suit until 2012, some 40 years later, plaintiff’s causes of action are time-barred by Pennsylvania’s two-year statute of limitations.”
from Courthouse News
Posts Tagged ‘boy scouts’
PENNSYLVANIA – A federal judge threw out claims that the Boy Scouts and a Pennsylvania church let scoutmasters sexually abuse a teenage scout in the 1960s.
Families looking for an alternative to the Boy Scouts of America after the group voted to drop its ban on gay youth earlier this year descended on Nashville, Tenn., this weekend to help launch a Christian-based scouting organization.
More than 1,200 former Scout officials, parents and youth from 44 states were attending the two-day national leadership convention where the group unveiled its name – Trail Life USA – and logo, officials with the group said. One of the founders John Stemberger, a former Eagle Scout and father of two scouts, created OnMyHonor.Net, a coalition of disgruntled BSA members who left the organization after the controversial vote in May.
“Most of us are coming from a highly-structured environment that has 103 years of culture and language and program and symbols … and we are starting from scratch,” Stemberger said late Friday as he asked for patience as the group began “a program that we believe will be stronger, safer and more principled in every way.”
Whether the faith-based group gains popularity in the coming months could signal how successful the Boy Scouts of America will be at keeping members when the new policy takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014. BSA members were deeply divided over the decision to allow gay teens, with many vowing to quit the program.
“I do feel strongly enough about the policy that I don’t want my kids there” in the Boy Scouts, said Jonathan Pickens, a California firefighter and father of three young boys who had not yet joined Scouting before the change in the membership guidelines. An Eagle Scout who has 22 years in the BSA with the troop that his dad founded, Pickens — who opposed lifting the ban on gay Scouts — would rather “take a little bit of a blind leap of faith and try to make this work.”
Pickens was in Nashville joining other families and former Boy Scout leaders from across the country to discuss topics such as rank advancement, uniforms and charter partners; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will address the meeting.
“I want to have a prominent faith component that will be weaved in every fiber of the program,” said Stemberger, an Orlando attorney. “But at the same time, we are not going to become religious and churchy. This is not another church program. This is going to be a masculine outdoor program to raise young men.”
Boys, ages 5-17, may come from every religious background, but adult leaders in the program will adhere to a standard statement of Christian faith and values. The membership policy will focus on sexual purity rather than orientation. Gay youth and adults can participate, but they cannot “flaunt” their sexuality, Stemberger said in July.
The issue of whether to allow gay youth and adults in the BSA roiled the program for years. A campaign to change the membership policy gained momentum last year after a lesbian was ousted as den mother of her pack and a gay teen was denied the Eagle rank.
Some 70 percent of Boy Scout units are sponsored by churches, many of whom balked at having gays in the program. But as the vote neared on allowing gay youth, the largest church charter partner – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – said it would stay with the organization.
Since the ballot, some churches have reportedly ended their partnership with the Boy Scouts in communities in Florida, North Carolina and Indiana. But a BSA spokesman said Thursday that more than 99 percent of its 116,000 chartered partners were sticking with the program while its national office continued to meet with the sponsors on the issue.
“And in the very rare instance that a chartered organization has chosen not to continue with the Scouting program, other organizations have stepped up to charter those units and provide uninterrupted service to the youth in their communities,” spokesman Deron Smith said in an email.
Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, a group that campaigns for inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Boy Scouts, said he was sad to see families leave the BSA since his group believes that “Scouting is for all young men.” He also questioned if the Christian group would allow gay teens and men, saying he felt it was a “rhetorical ploy,” particularly since the Boy Scouts was maintaining a longstanding policy against any discussions of sexuality within the organization.
“You still cannot discuss sexuality within the BSA. That hasn’t changed and that will not change, and so, it’s really a distinction without a difference that they’re trying to make here,” he said.
Wahls and other gay rights advocates, such as GLAAD, have accused Stemberger of being anti-gay, pointing to his work as president of the Florida Family Policy Council, which promotes controversial gay conversion therapy on its website and which helped with the campaign to pass a law banning same-sex marriage in Florida.
“I want to be clear: We are not an anti-BSA organization,” Stemberger said late Friday. “In fact, we are not an anti-anything or anyone organization.”
For those who have already made the decision to leave the Boy Scouts, they are looking ahead to the Nashville convention and beyond.
Jeff Rayno, 51, a field researcher from Pooler, Ga., said he’d like to lead a troop in the new organization. His son Daniel, 14, is a Boy Scout, and Rayno, who believes that homosexuality is a sin, didn’t want him to be exposed to gays or discussion about sexuality through the program.
“I’m very excited that we can be starting a new thing that’s historical in nature that will be talked about years from now as being a cultural shift,” he said. “People are drawing somewhat of a line in the sand, saying that we have something that we believe in, we have a right to associate with people that think the same way that we do.”
For Alan Scheer, a Scoutmaster from Ochelata, Okla., the adjustment has been exciting but tough. His Troop 20 has stopped wearing their uniforms.
“I’ve cried a river since this started. I wanted to be buried in my Scout uniform. I couldn’t have imagined anything that would ever make me want to take it off again,” said Scheer, 50, an industrial mechanic.
He’ll bring to Nashville a photo album of the equipment that his troop has made from wood using old Boy Scouts’ manuals, like a backpack frame. He wants to show those people starting troops in Trail Life USA how they can save money on buying equipment that they would have gotten in the BSA.
“We’re just going to have to grow it ourselves,” he said. “Starting a troop can be expensive. Being able to connect with the Scouts of the old days and use your hands and make your own gear is a nice way to connect with a past that we are going to share.”
That past is strong for Pickens, who had always dreamed of becoming Scoutmaster of the troop his dad, now deceased, started in 1991. His religious belief that homosexuality is a sin, and his concern that his sons could be exposed to gays in the Boy Scouts, led him to leave the program.
Days after he returns from Nashville, he will introduce the new organization to four BSA troops he hopes to bring with him.
“It’s been kind of a bittersweet, big, big, big change for our family,” he said. “I may have to take on the big job of starting a troop from scratch. Whatever it will be, I am committed to it.”
from NBC News
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – A scoutmaster, now serving life in prison, sodomized two young Boy Scouts more than 60 times, the brothers claim in court.
John Doe, now 18, and Joseph Doe, 15, sued the Boys Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts Greater St. Louis Area Council, and the Black River Electric Cooperative, in City Court.
Black River was the sponsor of Troop 27, based in Fredericktown, Mo., where the brothers say they were abused by their scoutmaster, Kenneth Tomlinson.
Tomlinson is not named as a defendant but he is named in the lawsuit. He is serving three life terms in prison plus 22 years, according to the complaint.
Tomlinson pleaded guilty in late 2010 to 16 counts of sodomy in the first degree and four counts of sodomy in the second degree.
The brothers say Tomlinson abused them after gaining the trust of their family.
“Those improper sexual relationships included at least 60 instances of statutory sodomy, all of which occurred during the course and scope of authorized scouting activities,” the complaint states. “The improper sexual relationships included, but were not limited to, unwanted fondling, touching, sodomy and rape, to which plaintiffs could not consent by reason of their minority.”
The brothers claim the Boy Scouts knew the organization had a problem with pedophile scoutmasters, and adopted a “Two-Deep” leadership guideline that prohibited one-on-one contact. But the brothers say Tomlinson used his authority to usurp the guidelines.
“The defendants knew or should have known of Tomlinson’s interactions with all of the Scouts in Troop 27, including plaintiffs,” the brothers say in the complaint.
They seek punitive damages for battery, negligence, and violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
from Courthouse News
Multi-platinum rock band 3 Doors Down will headline the Boy Scouts National Jamboree’s featured concert this weekend as a replacement for acts that had previously pulled out during a divisive debate over the Boy Scouts of America’s exclusion of gays.
The group will perform Saturday night at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in southern West Virginia, BSA national spokesman Deron Smith told The Associated Press on Friday.
In March, Carly Rae Jepsen and Train canceled planned appearances at the Jamboree over the BSA’s exclusion of gays. Months of debate led to a vote by the BSA’s National Council in May to allow gay boys to participate in Scouting while keeping a ban on gay adults. The policy change is effective next January.
Smith didn’t comment on the band being a replacement act, saying, “We are excited to have 3 Doors Down perform for these young men and women, volunteers and visitors experiencing this amazing Jamboree in West Virginia.”
An official with 3 Doors Down didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The band’s hits include “Kryptonite,” “When I’m Gone” and “Here Without You.” The group is currently on a U.S. tour. The Jamboree gig was not listed on its website Friday. The band played Wednesday night in Wantagh, N.Y., and has its next concert scheduled for Monday in Clarkston, Mich.
In April, 3 Doors Down bassist Todd Harrell was charged with causing a fatal crash in a suburb of Nashville, Tenn. Police say the 41-year-old Harrell was under the influence when he was speeding down Interstate 40 and clipped the back of a pickup truck. The driver of the truck, 47-year-old Paul Shoulders Jr. was killed as a result of the crash.
Harrell is facing multiple charges, including vehicular homicide by intoxication, unlawful possession of a controlled substance, violation of the implied consent law and possession of contraband. A court hearing is set for July 30 in Nashville.
The band canceled four of its concerts out of respect for the victim and Harrell checked himself into a drug treatment facility after bonding out of jail.
from The Associated Press
Carly Rae Jepsen Drops Boy Scouts Event Over Gay Rights
UTAH – Boy Scouts and adult volunteers planning to wear their uniforms in Utah’s upcoming LGBT pride parade aren’t allowed to do so under the organization’s guidelines prohibiting advocating political or social positions, a leader with the program said Friday.
Rick Barnes, chief scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, said he learned of the plans for Sunday’s parade from a Scoutmaster, Peter Brownstein, organizing for Scouts and adults working with the Boy Scouts of America.
“We as a Scouting movement do not advocate any social or political position, so I reminded Mr. Brownstein that we do not wear uniforms at an event like this,” Barnes said. “We do not, as Boy Scouts, show support for any social or political position. We’re neutral. If he wants to attend the parade and others do that are Scouts or Scouters, they’re welcome to do so as private citizens wearing whatever they want except their uniform.”
“That’s our official position. It always has been, there’s nothing new here,” he added. “We just don’t want people to use the Boy Scouts to advocate their positions.”
Brownstein, 53, and a machinery appraiser in Salt Lake City, was just starting to organize for the Utah Pride Parade to be held in Salt Lake City after last week’s historic vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay youth to join the program. He was organizing under the banner of Scouts for Equality, a group that campaigns for the LGBT community to be welcomed in Scouting.
“I am asking everyone to wear their Scout uniforms,” Brownstein, whose son recently earned the BSA’s highest honor — the Eagle rank — said before receiving the notice from the scout executive. “The message we want to send is that Scouting should be open to everyone and it’s a wonderful program and everyone deserves to be included and have the benefits of the program.”
After learning of the uniform decision, he said: “I have some real good soul-searching to do … but we’re going to figure this out.” He added that he was leaning toward wearing his uniform.
At this stage, Brownstein believes the numbers of participants is small. One of them, Kenji Mikesell, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout in Salt Lake City, said he was also inclined to wear his uniform.
“If at all possible I want to wear my uniform,” he said, saying that though he could go either way on wearing it, he felt it would be a “welcoming” for “gay kids getting involved in Scouting. Kind of like ‘we want you here’ type of thing. And also as sort of a sense of pride. I’m glad the ban was lifted. I wish it was lifted for leaders but this is a first step in the right direction.”
When asked about the consequences of wearing the uniform, Barnes, the Scout executive, said: “The first point of the Scout law is a Scout is trustworthy. Once they’ve been told our policy, we expect them to be a good Scout and be trustworthy.”
Mikesell said he will wear his uniform despite what Barnes said.
from NBC News
GRAPEVINE, TEXAS — In a highly anticipated vote Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay youth starting next year, the latest sign of a shift in American attitudes toward gays and lesbians.
The resolution was adopted with more than 60% of the vote.
The vote to allow gay youth in Scouting — but not gay adult leaders — was held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central time during the group’s annual meeting in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine.
After about 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts national council voted by secret ballot, their votes were tallied by an outside balloting firm, Washington, D.C.-based True Ballot, and delivered to Boy Scouts President Wayne Perry, who announced the results to the gathering shortly after 5 p.m. Central time, according Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith.
The new policy takes effect Jan. 1, Smith said. Gay advocates called the vote a step in the right direction for the 103-year-old group, among the nation’s largest youth organizations with 2.6 million youth members.
“Today’s vote ending discrimination of gay Scouts is truly a historic moment and demonstrates the Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to creating a more inclusive organization,” said Zach Wahls, 21, an Iowa Eagle Scout raised by lesbian mothers who founded Scouts for Equality, which advocates for gays in Scouting, and traveled to Texas for the vote.
He called it “a tremendous victory toward the fight for equality in America. … We look forward to the day where we can celebrate inclusion of all members and are committed to continuing our work until that occurs.”Some local Scouting officials who participated in the vote said they wished the group could have gone further.
“We are disappointed that it doesn’t include everybody,” said Alan Snyder, chairman of the board of the Western Los Angeles County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, who voted for the proposal. “Inclusive should be all-inclusive.”
Opponents vowed to fight the new policy, which they warned would damage flagging membership and funding.
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, issued a statement: “We are deeply saddened that the voting delegates of the Boy Scouts of America overturned their constitutionally protected expressive message that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. … Our sadness for the Scouting organization as a whole cannot be overstated.”
Jonathan Saenz, president of the Austin-based conservative advocacy group Texas Values, which organized a protest outside the annual meeting, called the vote a “tragic decision” that showed the Boy Scouts had “chosen to place sex and politics above its timeless principles.”
from The Los Angeles Times
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which discriminates against gay scouts, atheists, and families who want to put their sons and daughters in the same scouting program, has seen its membership plummet in the last decade. Many former scouts have left scouting altogether. But a number of families fed up with BSA policies have found Navigators USA—a small organization that “welcomes all people…no matter what gender, race, lifestyle, ability, religious or lack of religious belief” and has seen its chapters (comparable to Boy Scout troops) double in the last year.
“We knew the Boy Scouts excluded gays when we started, but we thought that was one of the old, outdated rules on its way off the books,” says Bryan Freed, whose family switched from the Boy Scouts to a Navigators chapter in Los Altos, California, after the Boy Scouts publicly reaffirmed their ban on gay Scouts and Scoutmasters in July 2012. “We told our 8-year-old son Nathan what we thought of the official BSA rule on excluding gays, and we let him decide.”
The Navigators originated from BSA Troop 103 in East Harlem, which was also the first troop in America that was started in a shelter serving homeless families. After the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Boy Scouts could bar gay troop leaders in June, 2000, Navigators founder Robin Bossert, who was leading the Harlem troop at the time, said he stayed in the organization for three more years, “while I tried to see if it was going to be possible to change their policy from within.” When he realized this wasn’t going to happen, he pulled out of BSA and Troop 103 became Navigator Chapter 1.
In March, 2012, the Navigators had 19 chapters, but today, there are about 45 chapters across 21 states, according to Tony Porterfield, a chapter leader in Los Altos. Bossert adds that they are growing at a rate of about 2 chapters per month, with each chapter having an average of 8-12 children, so he estimates that there are up to 600 boys and girls enrolled in the program. For the most part, Navigators participate in the same kinds of activities that Boy Scouts do: Camping, organic farming, hiking, tie dying, excursions to museums, and community service. Freed says the only event his son misses from the Boy Scouts is the Pinewood Derby, where scouts build and race model cars (Freed points out that “as a parent doing much of the work on it, I do not miss it.”)
But there is one big difference: The Navigators’ Moral Compass (left), which expresses the group’s philosophy that members shouldn’t be discriminated against over gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. Bossert says the organization has openly gay chapter leaders, as well as board leaders and co-members.
“We wanted our two sons to take part in scouting [and] we wanted to do that within an organization that reflects our family’s values,” says Porterfield. “Inclusiveness and respect for others is part of the Navigators program and something we discuss directly with our children.”
Porterfield, who was a cub scout as a boy, notes that in the Navigators, LGBT issues are covered in age-appropriate language, with the conversation focusing on the importance of treating everyone with respect. When Freed asked his son which organization he wanted to join, he says he phrased the question like this: “Gay people are men who want to marry men, or women who want to marry women. Most families have one Mommy and one Daddy, but that is not always the case. And the Boy Scouts do not let gay people join their group.”
There are other alternative organizations to the Boy Scouts, both faith-based and secular, but the Navigators are among the biggest. They nonetheless still have a long way to go before catching up with the Boy Scouts numbers: Deron Smith, spokesman for the Boy Scouts, tells Mother Jones that there are about 2.6 million members (there were 2.7 million members in 2012, and 2.8 million in 2011.) Since 1999, membership to the Boy Scouts has declined by about a third. In the last year, the Boy Scouts have also faced dropped funders, angry pop stars, and most recently, a California bill that would make the organization ineligible for tax breaks because of its discriminatory policy against gay members. The organization will vote on whether to overturn its ban on gay members in May, but even if the ban is overturned, individual troops will still be able to discriminate.
“We can’t discuss other organizations,” Deron says, in response to a question about whether participants unhappy with the ban should choose the Navigators over the Boy Scouts. But he adds that BSA aims to “create an environment where people who may disagree on a variety of topics can still work together to achieve life-changing benefits to youth through its program.”
“I’m skeptical that any other organization can replace the century of tradition and refinement that the BSA has enjoyed,” adds Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout raised by two lesbian mothers, and founder of Scouts for Equality, which is advocating for the Boy Scouts to lift its gay ban. “We’d prefer that the BSA return to its core values of mutual respect and religious freedom, but fully understand that other folks don’t want to wait.”
from Mother Jones
CALIFORNIA – California lawmakers are considering taking some tax exemptions away from youth groups that do not accept gay, transgender or atheist members – a move intended to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay Scouts and troop leaders.
Some cities have withdrawn free rent and other subsidies from the Boy Scouts over the years, but legislation introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara would make California the first state to target the Scouts for its anti-gay policy.
The Long Beach Democrat’s bill, SB 323, is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Wednesday.
“Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians,” Lara said. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups.”
The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed the Texas-based organization’s ban on openly gay members last summer then announced in January that it was revisiting the decision.
In February, the group said it would submit a resolution on rescinding the policy to the 1,400 members of Scouting’s National Council in May.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the organization was aware of Lara’s bill and would provide feedback on it to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee before Wednesday’s hearing.
“Beyond that, and our previous statements on membership standards, we don’t have anything to add at this time,” Smith said.
The legislation, also known as the Youth Equality Act, would deny tax-exempt status to nonprofit youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.
As a result, it would require those organizations to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, camp fees and other sources of income, and to obtain sellers permits and pay sales taxes on food, beverages and homemade items sold at fundraisers. Because all tax returns are private in California, supporters do not know how big a tax hit the Boy Scouts would take if the proposal passes.
Churches that sponsor Boy Scouts troops would not lose their underlying tax-exempt status, but an array of nonprofits, ranging from the Young Men’s Christian Association and Pop Warner football to the American Youth Soccer Association and 4-H clubs would have their tax returns and membership policies scrutinized by the state Franchise Tax Board, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.
As a tax measure, the bill requires a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority from both houses of the Legislature and the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown to become law.
“We would consider all legal options, including litigation, should SB 323 be enacted, but right now we are focusing on the legislative front,” Pacific Justice Institute staff attorney Matthew McReynolds said. “We’re not convinced that moderates will support, or the governor will sign, a tax increase that targets organizations based on ideology. ”
The institute and other legal aid groups that represent religious conservatives have cautioned lawmakers that the measure conflicts with a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of private groups such as the Boy Scouts to exclude gays and lesbians from serving as adult leaders.
“SB 323′s primary purpose is to penalize BSA based on its constitutionally protected membership policy and the values that underlie it,” lawyers for the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in a letter to lawmakers last week. “This type of targeted punishment of a group based on how it exercises its associational and free speech rights violates the First Amendment.”
The Legislative Analyst’s Office, however, has assured the Legislature it has authority to decide which organizations qualify for tax breaks.
An analysis of the bill points to a 2006 ruling in which the California Supreme Court said the city of Berkeley could end its half-century-old practice of giving a nautical-themed offshoot of the Boy Scouts free rent at the city marina because of its gay ban.
The California Association of Nonprofits also has expressed concerns about the bill but is not taking an official position opposing it, Public Policy Director Kris Lev-Twombly said.
“In general, we think the place for ruling on discrimination should be in the courts rather than through the tax code,” Lev-Twombly said.
from The Associated Press
No gays? No burritos.
Chipotle Mexican Grill withdrew its sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America’s “Scout-O-Rama” in Utah because of the organization’s gay ban.
The fast-food chain aroused criticism for betraying its own anti-discrimination stance after signing up to provide $4,200 worth of coupons for the May 4 event outside Salt Lake City.
“It was never our intention for this to be… some kind of an endorsement of broader Boy Scout policies,” company spokesman Chris Arnold told The Associated Press.
Advocates cited Chipotle’s policy of not supporting groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation, such as the Boy Scouts of America.
Arnold admitted to Think Progress.org — who first reported the sponsorship’s termination — that the “decision is not consistent with our own values, and we have used this opportunity to reinforce those values with the team that makes those decisions for us.”
Once the partnership reached Chipotle’s leadership, Arnold said, they decided to back out.
“Ultimately, we decided that the right thing to do was to remain consistent with our policy and terminate the sponsorship,” he said.
Chipotle is not alone in withdrawing support from the Boy Scouts and “Scout-O-Rama.” The Scouts’ Great Salt Lake Council, one of the largest in the country, makes money through sponsorships but did not come close to its projected fundraising goal this year, reported The Salt Lake Tribune.
“In the past we have received as much as $70,000 from these sponsorships, with a small portion of that going to subsidize the show costs,” an email to hundreds of Scout leaders reads.
“This year, because of the economy and some controversy surrounding the national organization, our sponsorships are down to just $8,000.”
Rick Barnes, executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, said that he understands Chipotle’s decision to back out of their partnership.
“If that’s what they need to, we respect that,” he said. “The show will go on.”
The Boy Scouts national executive board is considering the removal of its no-gay policy. The proposal was announced in late January and a vote over the decision is scheduled for May.
from The New York Daily News
The Boy Scouts of America are surveying their members on a potential change in their policy banning gay Scout leaders and members. Here are some of the questions distributed to 1.1 million adult Scouts:
- Tom started in the program as a Tiger Cub, and finished every requirement for the Eagle Scout Award at 16 years of age. At his board of review Tom reveals that he is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the review board to deny his Eagle Scout award based on that admission?
- What is your greatest concern if the policy remains in place and openly gay youth and adults are prohibited from joining Scouting?
- David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong. His troop is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith also teaches that homosexuality is wrong. Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to be a member in the troop and is denied membership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?
- A gay male troop leader, along with another adult leader, is taking a group of boys on a camping trip following the youth protection guidelines of two-deep leadership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the gay adult leader to take adolescent boys on an overnight camping trip?
- If the Boy Scouts of America makes a decision on this policy that disagrees with your own view, will you continue to participate in the Boy Scouts, or will you leave the organization?
from The Associated Press
Carly Rae Jepsen is canceling her performance at the national Boy Scouts of America Jamboree because of the organization’s exclusion of gays.
Jepsen, the Canadian pop singer best known for the inescapable hit “Call Me Maybe,” made the announcement Tuesday on Twitter.
“I always have and will continue to support the LGBT community on a global level,” she wrote, “… and stay informed on the ever changing landscape in the ongoing battle for gay rights in this country and across the globe.”
Rock band Train also has taken a stand, but pursued a different tack in a post on its website Friday. The group asked the BSA to reconsider its policy rather than immediately pull out of the July gathering in West Virginia. The event, held once every four years, is expected to draw more than 45,000 scouts and adults.
Members of Train said Friday in a message on their website that they were unaware of the policy barring gay scouts and adult leaders from participating in the organization before agreeing to perform.
“Train strongly opposes any kind of policy that questions the equality of any American citizen,” the statement said. “We have always seen the BSA as a great and noble organization. We look forward to participating in the Jamboree this summer, as long as they make the right decision before then.”
Deron Smith, publicity director for the BSA, says the organization is moving forward with plans for the Jamboree.
“We appreciate everyone’s right to express an opinion and remain focused on delivering a great Jamboree program for our Scouts,” Smith wrote in an email. Smith was unaware of any other performers scheduled to participate in the event.
The BSA’s policy has drawn attention before and gay rights organizations hailed Jepsen and members of Train for taking a stand and helping to bring the issue back into the public debate.
“Carly Rae Jepsen and Train’s decisions not only send the right message to the BSA, but remind LGBT young people that they are supported and accepted,” said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s vice president of communications, in a statement.
Ferraro said in an email that Jepsen and Train were alerted to the Boy Scouts’ regulation through the efforts of Eagle Scout Derek Nance, whose petition at change.org asked them to change their mind about playing the jamboree. Nance, who says he is gay, gathered 62,000 signatures, each of which spurred an email to the artists’ management.
from The Associated Press
Guy Gets Guy
MARYLAND – A Cub Scout pack in Maryland may lose its charter if it maintains a policy welcoming gay families and members, a Scout official said Friday, raising once more a controversial issue that has roiled the Boy Scouts of America in recent years.
Pack 442 of Cloverly, Md., is conducting a poll of its members on its website about whether to retain its non-discrimination policy, which reads: “Pack 442 WILL NOT discriminate against any individual or family based on race, religion, national origin, ability, or sexual orientation.”
The members have until Friday 8 p.m., to decide if they will keep the policy and possibly not be rechartered, or if they will remove it and return to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy welcoming all families, according to a statement on the pack’s website.
Les Baron, Scout Executive of the National Capital Area Council, or NCAC, to which the pack belongs, confirmed that the pack could lose its charter if it maintains the policy, which he noted was against the Boy Scouts’ longstanding ban on openly gay Scouts or leaders.
“Hopefully we don’t get to that point. We are working with the pack to try to work out our differences,” he told NBC News. “The policy of the Boy Scouts are what they are and my job is to not bring into (it) my own personal feelings, and all I am trying to do is maintain the quality and integrity of the Boy Scouts of America and its policies.”
The pack said it must submit the chartering application by Saturday. At that point, Baron said, the council would then have to make a decision on the charter bid and would take the non-discrimination statement into account. He said the time to make a decision varied.
On the pack’s website, a statement said the council “contacted us a few weeks ago pressuring us to remove our statement, we attempted to negotiate a rewording of the statement that would represent a compromise on the matter, but ultimately NCAC leadership felt only removal of the statement would be acceptable.” The pack’s committee chair did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
The policy was voted on by member families and “overwhelmingly approved” last August, according to the pack website, which also noted that its chartering organization supported the decision. The matter was discussed in detail with district leaders and the council from August through October 2012.
“As was stated above, it was only recently that NCAC contacted us saying they would no longer ‘allow’ this statement to be posted,” the website said.
The pack committee was split on the way forward, prompting the poll, according to the pack website.
“Some of the leaders feel the principle of non-discrimination is too precious to allow BSA to dictate that we abandon our local policy. Others feel that we should acquiesce to removal of the policy statement and return to a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” the website said.
Baron confirmed that he learned of the policy a few months ago. “The only reason that we do this program is try to provide quality opportunities and experiences for young people. It’s not about political issues and I’m sorry that it’s come down to that.”
A national BSA spokesman, Deron Smith, said the private organization “has policies that all councils and local units agree to follow.”
“In this instance, this pack will need to evaluate if they agree to the annual chartered organization agreement,” he wrote in an email to NBC News, adding that he wasn’t aware of any special deadline given to the unit to make the decision. Baron said he was not aware of any deadline.
The Boy Scouts reaffirmed its ban on gays and lesbians in 2012 following a two-year confidential review.
After the Boy Scouts reaffirmed its policy banning gays, dozens of Eagle Scouts said in online postings that they had returned their medals, badges or membership cards in protest. But many other Eagle Scouts said they agreed with the policy. Since then, Smith has said there were no plans to revisit the membership guidelines.
Activist groups stepped up their campaign to end the policy after Ryan Andresen, an 18-year-old California teen, was denied the Eagle rank late last year because he is gay, and following the dismissal of Jennifer Tyrrell last April from her post as den leader of her son’s Tiger Cub pack in Bridgeport, Ohio, because she is a lesbian.
A number of troops have said they don’t follow the policy, and some companies and charities have said they would not contribute to the Boy Scouts because of the ban.
from NBC News
Boy Scouts may be tough, but can they be as tough as GLAAD?
The gay-rights group is upset over “Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?,” a new reality competition series from the creators of he-man fare such as “The Deadliest Catch.” The show is due to premiere on the National Geographic Channel later this year.
GLAAD has tangled with Boy Scouts of America over policies forbidding gay leaders and members. The group last year reaffirmed its anti-gay ban after a two-year review of its policies.
GLAAD is upset that NatGeo is going ahead with the TV project and declining to criticize the Boy Scouts. The channel last week issued a statement that it appreciates “all points of view on the topic, but when people see our show they will realize it has nothing to do with this debate, and is in fact a competition series between individual scouts and civilians.”
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick wrote: “That National Geographic would brush aside countless gay teens suffering at the hands of the BSA, shrugging off injustice as just another ‘point of view,’ is irresponsible. By airing this program, National Geographic is providing support and publicity to an organization that harms young people simply because of who they are.”
from The Los Angeles Times
SAN FRANCISCO – A review board has challenged the Boy Scouts of America’s prohibition on gay members by recommending a local teenager for the rank of Eagle Scout, but the action won’t have an immediate effect on the young man’s status, his father said Tuesday.
The four-member board unanimously approved 18-year-old Ryan Andresen’s application on Dec. 31 and hand-delivered it to the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council’s leadership, the boy’s father said.
The board agreed to review Ryan’s qualifications after the Moraga teen’s scoutmaster refused to sign off on the paperwork after Ryan came out as gay last fall.
But the staff executive has refused to forward the recommendation to the national organization for final approval, leaving the board’s endorsement as only a moral victory for the boy’s family. Eric Andresen said he didn’t expect national Boy Scout leaders to support his son, but is still disappointed.
“Ryan always has been the mentoring type, the big brother type. He saw this as not only an opportunity, but a responsibility to try to make change, and he has said it many times that he doesn’t want any other Scout to have to go through this,” Andresen said. “It’s just blatantly unfair.”
Ryan’s experience has received national attention since October, when his mother launched a petition on the social advocacy site Change.org demanding action on her son’s stalled Eagle Scout bid. More than 460,000 people have signed it.
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said the volunteer review board does not have authority to act on behalf of the regional council and that Ryan doesn’t meet the Scouts’ membership criteria.
“The Eagle application was forwarded, by a volunteer, to the local council but it was not approved because this young man proactively stated that he does not agree to Scouting’s principle of `Duty to God’ and does not meet Scouting’s membership requirements,” Smith said. “Therefore, he is not eligible to receive the rank of Eagle.”
from The Associated Press
Almost-Eagle Scout Denied Award Because He Is Gay
San Diego may lease public property to the Boy Scouts of America at a steeply discounted rate even though the group bans gays and atheists, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, overturning a lower court decision, said San Diego was not engaging in discrimination by leasing valuable property to the youth organization in exchange for the group’s commitment to improve and manage the land.
The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by two couples, one lesbian, the other agnostic, who said that the city was subsidizing a group with discriminatory policies.
Drew Woodmansee, an attorney for the couples, said his clients were reviewing all options, including an appeal to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit.
“The Boy Scouts discriminate against people who don’t believe in God and who are gay and lesbian,” Woodmansee said. “The city in effect subsidizes that form of discrimination, and we believe it needs to stop.”
But the 9th Circuit said the lease was not intended to advance religious interests. “There is abundant evidence that its purpose was to provide facilities and services for youth activities,” the court said.
The 9th Circuit panel, which included two Democratic appointees and one Republican, said the leases for Camp Balboa and the Youth Aquatic Center did not pose a financial hardship to the city.
“Although they produce little to no revenue, these leases save the City money by placing the costs of maintenance and improvement upon the lessee organizations,” Judge William C. Canby Jr., who was appointed by President Carter, wrote for the unanimous panel. “The City spends nothing on the properties.”
One of the 25-year leases was for 18 acres at Balboa Park on a site that includes campgrounds, a swimming pool, an amphitheater, restrooms and showers, a picnic area and a ham radio room.
In addition to the annual $1 in rent, the lease required the Scouts to pay an annual $2,500 administration fee, bear responsibility for maintenance and administration and spend $1.7 million over seven years for capital improvements.
The other lease, for waterfront property on Fiesta Island in Mission Bay Park, required no rent but charged the Scouts with building a $1.5-million aquatic center. The center rents boats at inexpensive rates, the court said.
“Other nonprofit groups receive similar terms,” the court said.
John Eastman, a constitutional law professor at Chapman University School of Law, called the ruling “clearly the right decision.”
The ruling means that the Scouts’ “ability as an institution to have certain views doesn’t make them a pariah in the public square,” said Eastman, who wrote a friend-of-the-court brief siding with the Scouts.
“The Boy Scouts ought to be getting a medal for the public service they are providing rather than being on the receiving end of lawsuits,” the professor said.
The litigation over the leases has lasted about 10 years. The city of San Diego settled with the plaintiffs in 2004, paying their attorneys fees and court costs. The city did not evict the Scouts but agreed to abide by the court’s ultimate decision in the case and not to join the Scouts in their appeal.
from The Los Angeles Times