Philadelphia City Council voted yesterday to end a nearly 80-year-old lease held by the Boy Scouts local branch over the group's adherence to a national policy banning actively homosexual leaders.
The ongoing dispute pitted the Scouts' Cradle of Liberty Council against homosexual activists over the organization's refusal to adopt an official policy welcoming homosexuals into leadership. The City, under pressure by activist groups, wants the Scouts to either alter the organization's policy or start paying market rent for the use of the historical Beaux Arts building, where the Scout headquarters has been housed since 1928 for a nominal rent.
The resolution permitting the city to end the lease was introduced unexpectedly, according to coverage by the Philadelphia Inquirer, and passed 16-1 with no debate. City councilors stated their hope that the resolution would generate leverage for the city by and open the door to talks resolving the dispute.
Homosexual activist organization Equality Advocates Pennsylvania pushed the city to act on the scout's lease, the Inquirer reported. Executive director Stacey Sobel said that the Boy Scouts should not be able to use taxpayers' dollars to discriminate against homosexuals.
Scouts take an oath of duty to God as part of their membership, and actively homosexual individuals are not permitted as leaders. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that as a private organization, scouts could restrict homosexuals from leadership, scout groups have faced opposition from local officials revoking privileges where they have refused to alter policy based on the demands of homosexual activists.
The American Family Association of Pennsylvania said the city was caving to the pressure of homosexual activists.
"With an alarming number of children facing violent deaths on the streets of Philadelphia, the city's answer is to target one of the few organizations that offer purpose and meaning to these children. Of the 64,000 members the Cradle of Liberty Scout Council serves, 40,000 are in Philadelphia alone," said Diane Gramley, president of the AFA.
"The Scouts' policy banning open homosexual leaders is the right policy. Would the parents of Girl Scouts want a man to be their daughter's Scout leader? No and neither do parents want a man who is sexually attracted to other males to be Boy Scout leaders. Common sense should prevail here, but it's not."
"Efforts to appease never work. Homosexual activists want a pro-gay policy expressly stating that the Cradle of Liberty Scout Council will accept open homosexuals. They are not concerned with the well-being of the children of Philadelphia and surrounding counties, but instead choose to use them in an effort to make an example out of the Boy Scouts," Gramley said.