Scouts can lease public land, despite stance on gays: court
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO | Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:49pm EST
(Reuters) - The Boy Scouts of America can lease public land from the City of San Diego for a cheap rate, even though the scouts prohibit atheists, agnostics and homosexuals from becoming members, a U.S. appeals court ruled.
In an opinion on Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said two leases held by an organization chartered by the scouts do not violate the constitutional separation of church and state.
The Boy Scouts policy of denying membership to gay scouts and scout leaders has prompted protests and lawsuits. In 2000, the organization won a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing the organization to ban gays, whose conduct, the Boy Scouts argued, violated its values. The Scouts reaffirmed the policy earlier this year.
In San Diego, an organization chartered by the Boy Scouts leases portions of two popular city parks to provide children with an urban camping experience. In exchange for spending money developing facilities on the land, the Scouts pay virtually no rent.