Skip to comments.Fitzpatrick steps in for Boy Scouts
Posted on 07/31/2006 4:26:14 PM PDT by fgoodwin
Fitzpatrick steps in for Boy Scouts
By BRIAN SCHEID
Bucks County Courier Times
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8, wants the city of Philadelphia to end its dispute with the Boy Scouts of America.
Fitzpatrick has sent a letter to Philadelphia Mayor John Street, blasting the city's pending decision to oust the Boy Scouts from their Philadelphia headquarters for refusing to change their policy prohibiting gay members.
Fitzpatrick, an Eagle Scout and former president of the Bucks County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, also gave a brief speech on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday in support of the Scouts in the dispute.
Earlier this month, Street called on the Scouts' Cradle of Liberty Council, which serves more than 87,000 members in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties, to denounce the national policy excluding gays, pay fair market value rent for its Philadelphia building or vacate the property.
The building, located near the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, has headquartered the Scouts since 1928, when the City Council vote to let the organization use the property rent-free in perpetuity.
In the letter to Street, Fitzpatrick said the city's intention to now reverse its longstanding arrangement [with the Scouts] seems at best unwarranted.
Joe Grace, a spokesman for Street, said the city was pleased that Scout officials plan to meet with city solicitor Romulo Diaz Jr. in the near future to hopefully adopt a policy not to discriminate.
The city stands by its position, Grace said Friday. The process is moving, we hope, in the right direction.
In a phone interview, Fitzpatrick said with gun violence and gang activity on the rise, the Boy Scouts' presence in Philadelphia was more needed than ever.
This is a moment in time, in history, more than any other, when the city of Philadelphia needs the Boy Scouts, Fitzpatrick said.
William Dwyer III, the Cradle of Liberty Council's CEO and president, said Friday he was unaware of Fitzpatrick's letter to Street, but said he was looking forward to reading it.
[Fitzpatrick] knows the value of the program ... so, good for him, Dwyer said. I appreciate his efforts.
The Boy Scouts' national organization has a policy prohibiting gays from joining scouts or being leaders, a rule that was upheld in 2000 by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fitzpatrick, who became an Eagle Scout in 1979 when he was 15, has attended hundreds of Eagle Scout ceremonies as a congressman and county commissioner and is heavily involved with the organization.
Fitzpatrick represents the residents of Bucks County, some districts of Abington, Upper Dublin and Upper Moreland in Montgomery County and two wards in Philadelphia.
Brian Scheid can be reached at215-949-4165 or bscheid@phillyBurbs.com.
July 31, 2006 4:34 AM
There's a logical disconnect in the city's argument.
The boy scouts can't accept homosexuals into their organization because of religious constraints. The city has legal grounds for revoking the original grant of the use of the land based on the organization's religious affiliation.
But if the boy scouts organization accepts homosexuals as the city insists, that doesn't change the fact that the organization is still religiously affiliated. Homosexual employees and staff would be considered secular participants.
What this means is that even if the organization accepts gays, the basis for the city's argument against the grant in perpetuity would still be valid. In effect, the organization would give in to the city, only to remain under the city's thumb, and the city could continue to press for the revocation regardless of the organization's compliance with their demands.
The boy scouts organization should stand firm, and let the courts slog it out. If they lose, move. If they win, they should perhaps work to purchase the land from the city. There is probably a rule in the city books somewhere where a long term tenant has the right to convert a lease and buy the property at fair market value. A lot of cities have rules like this, atrocious as the rule may be.
I would love to see this in court. Reason being, the Dale case in 2000 expressly permits the Boy Scouts to discriminate against homosexuals. Since the Supreme Court has ruled that the Scouts can discriminate against homosexuals, how can the city of Phila. come in and say that they will revoke their grant of using that land based on it? The Scouts aren't doing anything illegal. Thus, how can Phila. say they disagree with the Supreme Court? \\
Can any Freepers explain?