The city solicitor gave the Boy Scouts of Philadelphia until December 3 to renounce their policy of excluding homosexuals, or the Scouts will lose the subsidized rent of their city-owned, 79-year-old landmark headquarters. The Boy Scouts also excludes atheists and agnostics within their organization. They have rented the building from the city for $1 a year since 1928. If they refuse to stop their discriminatory practices, they will have to pay the market value rent for the building, which is estimated to be $200,000 a year, or face eviction.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts acting as a private organization could set its own membership rules. The scouts have long required members to swear an oath of duty to God and their rules prohibit membership by anyone who is openly homosexual. City officials stated that they cannot legally rent taxpayer-owned property for a dollar a year to a private organization that discriminates because of sexual orientation or religion.
Boy Scout officials claim that they cannot renounce the discriminatory policies against homosexuals, atheists, and agnostics because they would risk losing their charter. ‘We can’t have a policy where we put in specific words that National won’t allow or we’ll loose our charter. We can’t afford not to be part of the national Boy Scouts,’ said Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts, reports the Washington Post.