Friday, October 19, 2007

Philadelphia Hikes Boy Scouts' Rent by $199,999 Over Gay Ban

The City of Philadelphia is 100% correct in charging the Boy Scouts market rate rent for use of a publicly owned facility as reported in this story ( To me the issue is very simple, if you are a private, non-profit organization and want to use publicly owned property, you cannot discriminate against segments of the population. The Boy Scouts have consciously adopted a policy to discriminate against gays and others who do not abide by their religious views, therefore they have forfeited the right for free use of public property. No taxpayer should have his tax dollars going to subsidize an organization that directly discriminates against them. Here are some story highlights:

The Boy Scouts of America's refusal to bend its rules to permit gay scouts will cost the organization's local chapter $200,000 a year if it wishes to keep its headquarters in a city-owned building on Logan Square. Representatives of the Boy Scouts of America's Cradle of Liberty Council were notified that to remain in their 79-year-old landmark headquarters, they needed to pay the city a "fair market" rent, Fairmount Park Commission president Robert N.C. Nix said yesterday. Currently, the rent is $1 a year. The city decided on the rent proposal after it was unable to reach a compromise with the local scout council in talks that have gone on since May.

"It's disappointing, and it's certainly a threat," said Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for Cradle of Liberty Council, referring to the rent's impact on the scouts' chances of staying on the site. Jubelirer said $200,000 a year in rent "would have to come from programs. That's 30 new Cub Scout packs, or 800 needy kids going to our summer camp." Nevertheless, Jubelirer said, scouting officials will ask City Solicitor Romulo L. Diaz Jr. for details on the real estate appraisals that yielded the $200,000 rent figure. Cradle of Liberty officials have said they could not renounce the scouts' long-established policy of not opening membership to atheists or openly gay people without running afoul of their charter with the scouts' National Council.

City officials have said they could not legally rent taxpayer-owned property for a dollar a year to a private organization that discriminates. The land belongs to the City of Philadelphia but has been leased since 1928 for that token sum to the scouts, who built the landmark Beaux Arts building. Unlike the scouts, public officials are also bound by a line of Supreme Court opinions barring taxpayer support of any group that discriminates.

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