Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Boy Scouts File Federal Lawsuit Over Dispute with City of Philadelphia

The local Boy Scouts organization has filed a federal lawsuit against the Nutter administration over the mayor's ultimatum that the scouts renounce the national group's policy on gays or leave their city-owned headquarters.

Mayor Nutter had told the "Cradle of Liberty" Boy Scout council to renounce the Scouts' national policy on gays, start paying fair-market-value rent, or vacate its city-owned headquarters -- on Winter Street near 22nd, just off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway -- by June 1st.

Currently, the scouting group gets the office space from the city for free.

Negotiations between the administration and the scouts have been going on for months (see related story), apparently for naught. The local scouting group has now filed a lawsuit in federal court, basically contending that the Nutter administration is violating the Scouts' First-Amendment rights by delivering this ultimatum.

Jason Gosselin is an attorney for the Boy Scouts:

"What the city has done is essentially ordered the Boy Scouts, the Cradle of Liberty Council, to repudiate that policy. And when they refused to do that, they've now been penalized by the city with the notice to vacate their headquarters."

Mayor Nutter says simply that the city cannot countenance the national Scouts' policy on gays:

"We don't support discrimination by organizations against individuals for any particular reason as they deliver their services. And certainly not on city land. In the cradle of liberty, the City of Philadelphia, that's just unconscionable."


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