Court Again Rules against Scouts on Gays: Dancer Discouraged from Seeking Job

By Murray, Frank J. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 14, 1999 | Go to article overview

Court Again Rules against Scouts on Gays: Dancer Discouraged from Seeking Job


Murray, Frank J., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


An Illinois court yesterday upheld a fine and sanctions against the Boy Scouts of America for discouraging a job application from a homosexual who worked as a dancer in gay bars.

It was the second courtroom defeat in 10 days for scouting's nationwide policy barring homosexual scouts or leaders.

Cook County Circuit Judge Stephen A. Schiller approved a token $100 fine by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and enjoined the BSA's Chicago Area Council from enforcing or publishing rules against hiring homosexuals.

"Heterosexual orientation is not a bona fide job qualification," Judge Schiller said, echoing the American Civil Liberties Union's central argument against BSA contentions that the presence of homosexuals in scouting ranks violates moral and religious teachings and offers poor role models.

"The . . . decision does not preclude the [Boy Scouts] from rejecting an employment candidate who it reasonably believes will use the opportunity presented by employment to discuss issues regarding sex," Judge Schiller said.

He also reversed a separate order by the commission that the scouts pay a $335,748.12 attorney's fee to the ACLU because the city and not the civil liberties organization prevailed in its complaint. The court ruled that client G. Keith Richardson, who set out to test the law, suffered no individual loss and nullified a $500 award to him for distress.

"The client is important, but really what this case is about is the policy. What affects one person can affect thousands of people, so of course we're disappointed for the individual client, but, in the grand scheme of things, it's a very exciting victory," ACLU staff lawyer Lauren Raphael said in an interview.

"My hope is that the result will be a more tolerant, more inclusive and stronger Boy Scouts of America," said Mr. Richardson, who expressed thanks even though the ruling did not benefit him directly.

"Of course we disagree, but it's a pretty limited ruling, applying only in the one city and untested on appeal. We're confident higher courts will rule that as a private voluntary association we do have these rights," national scouting spokesman Gregg Shields said from Dallas.

Earlier this week, the BSA modified its ban on membership by "known or avowed homosexuals" to say the rule hereafter applied to those "who openly self-identify as homosexuals" - and it promised not to ask. …

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