Press Release
For Immediate Release and Distribution
February 10, 2006
Scouting for All

Contact:
Scott Cozza, Pres
info@scoutingforall.org
Tel: 707-778-0564

Eric Marx, Northeastern Regional Director
northeastern@scoutingforall.org
Tel: 301-656-1163

Congress Sneaks Unique Protections for Boy Scouts of America's Discrimination into Defense Authorization Bill



Last month, President Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (H.R.1815), which was passed by Congress in the final hours before its Christmas recess. Before the final passage of this bill, however, supporters of the policies of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that discriminate against gay and atheist youth and adults slipped into the bill the so-called "Support Our Scouts Act of 2005" (Section 1073). This eleventh-hour amendment, entirely beyond the ordinary scope of a Defense Authorization bill, is intended to give special treatment to BSA in three ways. First, subject to the availability of appropriations, it purports to immunize BSA from any law that might limit the Federal Government's support of it, thus undercutting our Nation's anti-discrimination laws (as well as its fiscal responsibility in government expenditures). Second, this amendment requires the U.S. Department of Defense to provide at least the same level of support for BSA's national or world Jamborees as in past years. This is a direct affront to the Federal Court injunction currently in place enjoining such support as an unconstitutional establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment. Finally, this amendment requires any state or local
government entity that receives Community Development Block Grant money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to allow BSA to have meetings in their facilities or on their property, regardless of these entities' own laudable anti-discrimination laws or regulations that forbid such access to discriminatory groups. While some of these provisions purport to apply to a number of youth organizations, their special focus on BSA is clear, not only from the amendment's title, but also as the protections are only needed to immunize BSA's exceptional discrimination.

Scouting for All,* an anti-discrimination organization inspired by Eagle Scout Steven Cozza, asks why Congress would go to such extraordinary lengths to shield an organization that:

-Discriminates against gay and atheist youth and adults.
-Is under investigation by the FBI for fraud, inflating membership numbers to increase funding.
-Who has a national executive arrested for receiving and distributing child pornography.
-Who may be using its Learning for Life program to secure funding legitimately denied to its traditional scouting program.
-Who allows its Scout Councils to mislead funding sources such as the United Way by telling them they don't discriminate, yet continue to adhere to the BSA's national mandated policy of discrimination against gay and atheist youth and adults.
-Gives the youth under its charge the message that discrimination is ok, and that gay and atheist people are morally inferior and not good citizens.
-Gives the youth under its charge who have gay and/or atheist parents the message that their parents don't have family values and are morally inferior to heterosexual parents who profess religious faith.

As recognized in the statements of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA):

"The Boy Scouts of America policy of discriminating against homosexuals and atheists is contradictory to the Federal Government's support for diversity and tolerance and should not be condoned as patriotic, charitable, or educational. An organization that claims that its mission
is to "instill in young people lifetime values and develop in them ethical character," and to "train young people in citizenship, service, and
leadership" does a disservice to our nation when it teaches young people that it is okay to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or their religious convictions."

and Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA):

"I stand with Scouting for All in calling for the Boy Scouts of America return to their roots of instilling the values of good citizenship and
teaching life skills to all Americans who wish to join. If, instead, the organization continues to sanction discrimination on behalf of its
right-wing financial backers, then the federal government has a moral and Constitutional duty to sever all financial and symbolic ties to the
organization. That would be a shame, because there are plenty of exclusive organizations in this country dedicated to intolerance, but far too few that bring kids of all backgrounds together to share in meaningful life experiences,"

the Federal Government has no place putting itself out as the protector of invidious discrimination. While these sentiments have been echoed by other elected officials -- most especially Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), who has repeatedly expressed his deep disappointment that BSA "betrays its own professed mission of bringing out the best in young people by perpetuating this unfair and unjustified discrimination based on sexual orientation and religious belief" -- all too few of our Representatives and Senators stood up to the backroom dealings that led to the last-minute insertion of this amendment in the "must-pass" Defense Authorization bill.

Scouting for All calls for the prompt repeal of this pernicious legislative sneak attack on the civil rights of all Americans, and for an end to the special protections given to BSA's discrimination. We hope to soon see the day when all Americans are equally treated with the respect and dignity they so rightly deserve. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


*Scouting for All is a 501(c) (3) charitable, nonprofit organization that undertakes educational activities and outreach programs opposing BSA's intolerance and discrimination. These include maintaining our Internet web site, http://www.scoutingforall.org/; providing consultations to BSA members, religious groups, governmental bodies, schools, businesses and the United Way; providing support to Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs in high schools; organizing protests at BSA events, including its annual BSA National Council meeting; participating in gay-pride events; providing support to gay and atheist or nontheistic scouts and leaders; creating and distributing literature from Scouting for All; speaking at national and regional conferences, including PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the NGLTF (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force); organizing our Annual National Recognition of GLBT Youth and Gay and Atheist Scout Month in October, which includes rallies, fund-raisers and celebrations for GLBT youth; and coordinating Scouting for All's Alliance for Human Rights. Tax-deductible financial contributions can be made on our web site, http://www.scoutingforall.org/ , or sent to Scouting for All, POB 2832, Petaluma, CA 94953-2832.

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