Gay Organization Praises Supreme Court Ruling That Favors Boy Scouts

"Freedoms of Association and Expression Were Protected Today," GLIL Leader Asserts

The president of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL) June 28 praised the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says the Boy Scouts of America are free to choose their own leaders, even if it means excluding gay men as Scoutmasters.

Richard Sincere, president of GLIL since February 1998, stated that his organization was pleased that "by a vote of 5 to 4, the Supreme Court recognizes that freedom of expressive association is protected under the U.S. Constitution. Despite what others might say, this is a victory for the rights of gay men and lesbians to form groups, gather for expressive purposes, and pursue their own visions of happiness with freedom and dignity."

GLIL had filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale, arguing that the Boy Scouts of America have a constitutional right to set their own standards for membership and leadership positions, even if that means the Boy Scouts may exclude openly gay Scout leaders from participation in the organization.

Sincere said GLIL leaders were pleased that Chief Justice Rehnquist seemed to follow the reasoning in the group’s brief when he wrote that: "We are not, as we must not be, guided by our views of whether the Boy Scouts’ teachings with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong; public or judicial disapproval of a tenet of an organization’s expression does not justify the State’s effort to compel the organization to accept members where such acceptance would derogate from the organization’s expressive message."

"Our brief had emphasized our disagreement with the Boy Scouts’ policy of excluding gay members and leaders," said Sincere, a former Boy Scout himself. "But if government forces the Boy Scouts to change that policy, the constitutional rights of all of us—not just the Scouts, but everyone, gay or straight—will be diminished. Freedom does not belong only to those with whom we agree. Gay men and lesbians have suffered when freedom of association has not been respected. We benefit when freedom of speech and freedom of association are vigorously protected. A Supreme Court ruling against the Boy Scouts would have had the perverse effect of hurting gay and lesbian Americans."

GLIL’s brief before the Supreme Court was prepared by the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based public-interest law firm. GLIL’s amicus brief is available on-line at http://www.gayliberty.org.

Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty was founded in February 1991 to advance the ideas of economic and personal freedom and individual responsibility. It has members across the United States and in several foreign countries.

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