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Judge invalidates Scouts' lease at San Diego park

Judge invalidates Scouts' lease at San Diego park

A federal judge ruled Thursday that the city of San Diego acted improperly when it leased 18 acres of its main public park to the Boy Scouts for a token fee, saying the organization's policies regarding gays and religion disqualify it from preferential treatment. U.S. district judge Napoleon Jones Jr. said the lawsuit against the city was "predictable fallout" from a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000 allowing the Boy Scouts of America to exclude gays from serving as troop leaders or members. "Those protected, private viewpoints include an antihomosexual, antiagnostic, and antiatheist stance," Jones wrote in a summary judgment. "After [the Supreme Court ruling], it is clear that the Boy Scouts of America's strongly held private, discriminatory beliefs are at odds with values requiring tolerance and inclusion in the public realm." The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against the city and the Boy Scouts Desert Pacific Council in August 2000 on behalf of two boys, one raised by a lesbian couple and the other by an agnostic pair. The suit sought to void the lease in the northwest corner of Balboa Park, near the San Diego Zoo, for $1 a year. The camp features nine campgrounds, a swimming pool, and an amphitheater. The Scouts developed the camp after World War II and signed a 50-year lease in 1957. The city council voted 6-3 in 2001 to extend it 25 years, with an option for an additional 15 years. The judge said the lease extension was the result of exclusive negotiations that implied the city's endorsement of the Scouts' "inherently religious programs and practices."

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