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Supreme Court Refuses Calif. Scout Case

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Supreme Court Refuses Calif. Scout Case

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

October 16, 2006 - 2:00 pm ET

(Washington) The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from a Berkeley, California Boy Scouts sailing group that lost free use of a public boat slip because of the Scouts' anti-gay policy.

The court decision allows a ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding Berkeley's decision to stand.

The city revoked free berthing privileges for the Berkeley Sea Scouts because the Boy Scouts bar atheist and gay members, which violates the city's 1997 policy to provide free berthing to nonprofits that don't discriminate.

The Scouts had used the facility since the 1930s.

The Scouts fought the decision up to the California Supreme Court which ruled in March that the city did not violate the rights of the young sailors.

The justices ruled Berkeley could demand that a group receiving subsidies renounce a policy of "invidious discrimination."

"We agree with Berkeley and the court of appeal that a government entity may constitutionally require a recipient of funding or subsidy to provide written, unambiguous assurances of compliance with a generally applicable nondiscrimination policy," Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote for the court.

City officials told the Sea Scouts that the group could retain its berthing subsidy, valued at about $500 monthly per boat, if it broke ties with the Boy Scouts or disavowed the policy against gays and atheists.

The Sea Scouts, which teaches sailing, carpentry and plumbing, refused to do so and maintained that such an edict was unconstitutional because it compelled speech it did not agree with.

The Supreme Court gave no reason for its decision not to hear the appeal.

In 2000 the court ruled that the Boy Scouts have the right under the First Amendment to ban openly gay scout leaders.

Following that decision Berkeley and a number of other cities across the country that have LGBT civil rights ordinances barred the Boy Scouts of America from using publicly funded facilities.

©365Gay.com 2006

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