Philadelphia — The Philadelphia chapter of the Boy Scouts of America are facing a heavy price — in the form of $200,000 in rent per year — for its National Council’s stance against admitting gays.
Previously the Boy Scouts of America’s Cradle of Liberty Council paid $1 a year to locate its headquarters in a historic, city-owned building. City officials raised the amount charged to the organization because they can’t legally rent taxpayer-owned property for a dollar a year to a private organization that discriminates.
“It’s disappointing, and it’s certainly a threat,” Jeff Jubelirer, a spokesman for Cradle of Liberty Council, told the Associated Press on Oct. 18 regarding the rent increase. The rent hike will go into effect should the scouts stay in their current location past May 31, 2008.
“[The money] would have to come from programs,” Jubelirer added. “That’s 30 new Cub Scout packs, or 800 needy kids going to our summer camp.”
The lease first came into question after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2000 indicated that the scouts, as a private organization, have a First Amendment right of “expressive association” to set their own membership rules, which currently prohibit membership by anyone who is openly gay.
Years of discussions between the city and the Cradle of Liberty Council ended abruptly on May 31, when the City Council voted 16-1 to authorize ending the lease with Cradle of Liberty Council.