TRENTON, N.J. Aug 04 -- The Boy Scouts of America's ban on homosexuals is illegal under New Jersey's anti-discrimination law, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

The Boy Scouts vowed to appeal the court's ruling, which upheld a state appellate court decision, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court, in a unanimous decision, sided with James Dale, a Matawan assistant scoutmaster who was kicked out of the Boy Scouts nine years ago when leaders found out he is gay. Dale said the ruling showed that "justice will prevail."

The court said the Irving, Texas-based Boy Scouts organization constitutes a "place of public accommodation" because it has a broad-based membership and forms partnerships with public entities and public service organizations.

Thus, the court said the Boy Scouts fall under New Jersey's anti-discrimination law and cannot deny any person "accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges" because of sexual orientation.

The court also rejected the Boy Scouts' contention that striking down their ban on homosexuals violates the group's First Amendment rights.

"To recognize the Boy Scouts' First Amendment claim would be tantamount to tolerating the expulsion of an individual solely because of his status as a homosexual -- an act of discrimination unprotected by the First Amendment freedom of speech," the decision reads. Dale, now 29, earned 30 merit badges and various other awards and was an Eagle Scout during his 12 years in the organization. He was expelled in 1990.

A lower court judge ruled in the Scouts' favor in 1995, calling homosexuality "a serious moral wrong" and agreeing with the Boy Scouts that the group is a private organization and has a constitutional right to decide who can belong.

In overturning that decision last year, an appeals court said Dale's "exemplary journey through the Boy Scouts of America ranks as testament enough that these stereotypical notions about homosexuals must be rejected."

George Davidson, an attorney for the Boy Scouts, said this is the first time the group had lost such a case in a state's highest court. He had argued the group has a right to pick its own leaders without interference from "an all-powerful state."

"It's a sad day when the state dictates to parents what role models they must provide for their children," Davidson said.

"To us, the silver lining is it gives Boy Scouts the first opportunity to go the U.S. Supreme Court and get a definitive ruling to put an end to these lawsuits," he said.

The court decision rejected "the notion that Dale's presence in the organization is symbolic of Boy Scouts' endorsement of homosexuality. ... Dale has never used his leadership position or membership to promote homosexuality, or any message inconsistent with Boy Scouts' policies."

Dale said his birthday was Monday, and "this is the best birthday present I could have asked for. The Supreme Court of New Jersey is wonderful. This is exactly what scouting has taught me: to believe in the system and that justice will prevail."

"When I was growing up, I didn't know I was gay, but the Boy Scouts made me feel good about who I was," Dale said. "Whether or not they know it, the Boy Scouts do wonderful things for gay kids across the country." He spoke at a news conference at the New York offices of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represented him in court.

Last November, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a California man ousted as a Boy Scout leader because he is gay. It was the first such case to reach the court this decade.

Reporter: The Associated Press


SQ note: There's an easy solution for the BSA in all of this. They can pull up their tent stakes in the schools and move into churches, where bigotry is protected by the First Amendment, where it is clear the BSA would like to hide. Make certain they're operating using only their own funds, and they can do whatever they like. Deal?

12 U.S. Senators Are Space Aliens! - Weekly World News 6/7/1994


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