Abandoning discrimination against gays is so dangerous that all Boy Scout troops must be required to discriminate. Allowing troops to include gays would be “suicide” for the organization (the latest news today is that this decision about whether to commit suicide has been postponed until May).
Read more about it here
If members of the bar believe these litigation risks are overstated, now is the time to speak out. In recent years large organizations that vehemently condemn homosexuality have nonetheless been exposed to litigation over child molestation as well as the litigation that usually ensues when an organization discriminates. One such organization is the Boy Scouts. In any event, it is difficult to imagine how allowing Boy Scout troops to decide not to discriminate against gays would increase the amount of litigation that the Boy Scouts already have.
And then there is the fact that many boys – gay and straight – do not have access to the Boy Scouts because of the present policy. Legal complexities that accompany discrimination are part of the problem. Private schools, particularly well known private schools, fear the social stigma that comes with homophobia along with litigation likely to arise if they violate their own stated policies; public schools fear not only social stigma but litigation when discriminatory organizations have access to government facilities. The result is that many schools do not have Boy Scout troops.
And that leaves the churches. Here too, there is a problem. Most denominations do not condone discrimination against gays by nonreligious organizations. Many denominations – including the Episcopal Church, Congregational churches, Jewish congregations, and others – also refuse to condone discrimination within their own religious organizations. They will have nothing to do with the Boy Scouts unless nondiscrimination is at least an option.
Many boys will not find a Boy Scout troop at home or at church. And many won’t join.
The Boy Scouts may soon decide whether they are an American institution – open to all American boys and respected by most Americans – or not. If not, that is their legal right (the Supreme Court has already decided that issue; the Supreme Court has also protected membership in the Communist Party and other fringe groups). An increasing number of Americans, however, will wonder why our flag remains on the uniform of a boys’ organization that has made itself inaccessible to so many American boys.
And what does this have to do with ethics? That is a question for the board and the financial backers of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), now that its President has spoken out yet again (he already has talked about gays so frequently that Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals recently described EPPC as being preoccupied with homosexuality). Is there really an ethical imperative for a private organization to discriminate against gays, and if so why?
Update [2/7]: And he does not let up, so here is more from today: