I followed the U.S. Supreme Court case Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale closely. I deeply sympathize with James Dale, a dedicated leader dismissed from BSA because he is homosexual. I vehemently protest the Boy Scouts’ exclusion of James Dale from scouting, and I believe what they did is wrong. Nevertheless, BSA v. Dale is not about what should be done but what can be done according to the highest law in the land – the Constitution.
Americans have the basic right to associate. Private organizations are allowed to discriminate against any race, creed or even gender. The Hatchet overlooks a simple fact about the Boy Scouts: the Boy Scouts already legally discriminate against girls and atheists.
One of the 12 points of the Scout Law declares that a scout is reverent. Thousands of different creeds are represented in the Boy Scouts, and religious organizations contribute a large amount of money each year to BSA. People who do not believe in God and are proclaimed atheists are not allowed to become scouts.
The discrimination against girls in the Boy Scouts is more obvious and clear. Still, if the Boy Scouts are not a private organization, but a public accommodation, as the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled, then both girls and atheists should not be discriminated against and should be allowed to enter the Boy Scouts, as well. Clearly, girls and atheists joining the Boy Scouts of America would destroy the fundamental components of the organization.
I hope that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Boy Scouts that the BSA will not see the ruling as a victory because, in the end, it will be the Boy Scouts that will lose since the BSA will be seen as an anti-gay, bigoted organization. What is most important in this case is that private organizations retain the right to discriminate. American law and society should not try to dissect all the butterflies, for eventually, there will be no butterflies left.
freshman and Eagle Scout
This article appeared in the May 1, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.