THE SUPREME COURT ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts could legally discriminate against gays. But that doesn't mean the city or its taxpayers should be required to aid or subsidize the Scouts as they carry out this discrimination.
That's why the city asked the Boy Scouts to vacate the city-subsidized property they use for their headquarters. It's a building the Boy Scouts built on land the city provided for free in 1928; the original ordinance spelled out that the city would own the building and could revoke the arrangement.
But the Boy Scouts are crying foul, saying the city has singled out the Scouts and - are you ready for this? - is discriminating against them; the Scouts just sued the city.
The Scouts must have been emboldened after they won the right from the Supreme Court to not treat everyone equally, although the fact is, their Supreme Court win has proved to be the exception rather than the rule. For example, the Pentagon has since been barred from hosting the annual Boy Scout jamboree, because the court decreed the Scouts were a religious organization. And other cities around the country, like San Diego and Berkeley, Calif., have legally ended similarly subsidized arrangements with the Scouts.
Here in Philadelphia, the suit claims that the city is punishing them for having views not its own.
We have little patience for the claims the Scouts are making. It's a simple equation: taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize private, discriminatory groups, no matter how much other benefit they bring to a community. But we agree with them on one point: the city should be scrutinizing all similar arrangements it has with organizations and groups to make sure they are in line with fair-practice ordinances. And if they aren't, they should end the arrangements.
The city rents at under-fair-market value to about 100 groups, both nonprofit and for-profit. The list includes the Boys Club, youth centers, athletic clubs, a children's crisis treatment center and a senior center run by Zion Baptist Church. The suit claims that some of these organization limit membership or services to particular groups, too.
But delivering social services to a targeted group - like seniors - and discriminating against someone for their race, sexual orientation or other reason are two different things, and the Scouts should be ashamed they're trying to equate them. It does a disservice to the boys who look to the Scouts for guidance and leadership. *