Boy Scouts lose court battle for charity in Connecticut
Connecticut did not violate the rights of the Boy Scouts when it deleted the group from a list of charities that state employees contribute to through a payroll deduction plan, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. The Boy Scouts, based in Irving, Tex., and a Connecticut scouting council had filed the federal discrimination lawsuit against the state, saying exclusion from the list was a First Amendment violation.
On Thursday the second U.S. circuit court of appeals agreed with a lower court that said the Connecticut State Employee Campaign Committee did not violate the Constitution when it removed the Boy Scouts from its list in 2000. The state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities had said that including a group that bars gays would violate antidiscrimination laws. The court said the Boy Scouts had not proved that Connecticut applied the state's gay rights law in a discriminatory manner.
James Florez, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said the organization was disappointed. "We still believe that exclusion, as Connecticut has sought to do, is unconstitutional," he said. "We just feel like the Boy Scouts are caught in a cultural war between political correctness and traditional values." He said the organization had not decided whether to appeal.
In a released statement Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal said the state was pleased with the ruling, which upheld a law that goes beyond the Boy Scouts. "The legislature has prohibited discrimination by the state against gays and lesbians--a ban against state support for any organization that discriminates, which has now been upheld by the court," he said.
The appeals court ruling upheld a July 22, 2002, ruling in Hartford, Conn., by Judge Warren Eginton. Eginton wrote that the issue before him was not the Boy Scouts' viewpoint on homosexuality but instead was whether the organization complied with Connecticut laws.