Outright Libertarians Denounce Berkeley California Sea Scouts

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GLBT group that sided with Boy Scouts in 'BSA v. Dale' switches sides in 'Evans v. Berkeley.'

Outright Libertarians, an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Libertarian Party activists, supports the city of Berkeley's position in refusing to continue subsidizing the Sea Scouts with a taxpayer-funded free berth at the city marina. Some may find it ironic that Outright opposes this Boy Scout affiliate after siding with the Boy Scouts in the famous case "Boy Scouts of America et al v. Dale [1]" that was decided by the Supreme Court in 2000 in favor of the Boy Scouts. A simple examination of the two cases shows they are quite different.

In "Dale," the Boy Scouts asserted their freedom of association by revoking the membership of James Dale, a gay man, who was an adult assistant scoutmaster at the time. The Boy Scouts refuse to accept homosexuals or atheists as members. Dale sued in New Jersey, and initially won under a law that prohibited discrimination in places of public accommodation. Though Outright Libertarians discourages the type of discrimination exhibited by the Boy Scouts in kicking Dale out, Outright agreed with the Boy Scouts that the First Amendment provisions of freedom of speech and association rightly prevent the government from forcing the Boy Scouts to accept Dale into their organization.

"Freedom of association means nothing if the government can tell you who you have to associate with." said Rob Power, chair of the Outright Libertarians. "So too, the Boy Scouts should be able to choose their own members, even if they offend the sensibilities of many people in doing so."

In "Evans v. Berkeley [2]," unlike in "Dale," the government is not trying to take away any of the Sea Scouts rights, such as free speech or association. Instead, they are removing a financial subsidy -- of somewhat questionable propriety in the first place -- on the legal and very reasonable grounds that the taxpayers of Berkeley should not be forced to fund something that is discriminatory. It would be absurd to say the Sea Scouts had a Constitutional right to a free berth at the marina; it was essentially a gift from the city for all these years.

Said Power, "While private groups like the Boy Scouts may discriminate, public ones like Berkeley may not. The Sea Scouts can chose to include or exclude any members they wish. But when they claim that the removal of a taxpayer subsidy is a violation of their First Amendment rights, they're missing the point. The real First Amendment violation has for years been against the gay boy who, if he exercised his First Amendment right to say he's gay, would be kicked out by the Sea Scouts, barring him from taxpayer-funded benefits offered to straight boys. Outright seldom sides with government, but in this case the city of Berkeley is right, and we hope the California Supreme Court agrees."

Adds Richard Newell, a former Boy Scout and Explorer Scout, and the chairman of the local California chapter of Outright Libertarians, "I wonder what moral lessons these young people are learning from their elders in the Boy Scouts. First they are taught that it is OK to discriminate against gays and lesbians or those with different religious views. Then they are taught that if you don't get everything you want in life because of the poor choices you have made, you should use lawyers and the courts to force others to bend to your pleasure. It doesn't sound very wholesome to me. The Boy Scouts should be ashamed both for their discriminatory membership policies, and for having the unmitigated gall to bring this lawsuit against the city of Berkeley."


[1] Boy Scouts of America et al v. Dale: No. 99-699. Argued April 26, 2000--Decided June 28, 2000

[2 Evans et al. v. City of Berkeley et al., S112621. Argued Jan. 10, 2006--Pending Decision


"Anti-gay policy argued; Top Court Hears Berkeley Case Against Sea Scouts," by Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times (as reported in the San Jose Mercury News)


About Outright Libertarians:

Outright Libertarians is a national organization with local affiliates across the country and members in approximately 30 states. Its dual mission is to represent Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) issues within the Libertarian Party, and to promote the Libertarian Party to the GLBT community. While composed primarily of Libertarian Party members, it is not officially connected to the Libertarian Party. Membership is open to anyone with a common interest, gay or straight. Membership and more information about the Outright Libertarians may be obtained at http://www.OutrightUSA.org.

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