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1st Amendment and BSA

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GernBlansten asks:


How can a BSA unit be owned by a public school, but not allow atheist or gay students to be served?


That's it. It's so simple. All the legalistic acrobatics in the world cannot produce a satisfactory answer to that question.

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I know several state public universities that offer LGBT programming on da public dime.


Are those services therefore illegal?


We give public funds to womens health clinics and programs.


Also illegal?


Federal grants to improve the educational programs and retention of girls and minorities in various fields.


Also illegal?


Social services targeted to special populations - everything from da Amish to the special needs of immigrants.


Also illegal?


Da military's position on LGBT and on women in certain combat roles.


Also illegal?


And that's before we get into preferential treatment, like Affirmative Action, eh?


Da world is a far more complex and interestin' place than trite formulaic arguments make out. Da resolution of disputes often turns on da facts and circumstances of a case for that reason - because when yeh apply trite formulaic arguments you mostly do all kinds of damage to lots of good things, and that's not in society's best interest.


A bit like "Win all you can", eh? Sometimes it's just better to cooperate with each other on different stuff, even when yeh disagree with 'em. Because it makes everyone better.


So da "satisfactory answer" is that if yeh have a black urban church that is willing to partner with your public school to provide intervention and tutoring and other services to kids who are members, then it serves da public interest to help 'em do that. Because those kids are more likely to stay in school and go on to graduate. Even though that church isn't helpin' immigrant Vietnamese kids. If yeh have an Alcoholics Anonymous program that supports da social services needs of some of your population, yeh partner with 'em and use 'em. Because those folks are less likely to relapse, and that serves a public interest. Even though AA isn't for everybody.


Yeh do those things because you care more about serving people than you do about simplistic legalisms. Which is why yeh need to get out and work with kids, and needy families, and understand what da real issues are in helpin' folks, and how to put resources together to reach 'em. If yeh help da AME tutoring program they bring resources to the table, which leaves yeh with more resources to go help da Vietnamese kids through the local Community Center. If yeh partner with AA, they bring resources which frees up more of your resources to help da fellow who can't be served by the twelve steps but needs more direct and expensive psychiatric care. If yeh partner with da BSA they bring camps and materials and insurance and resources for free that will meet da needs of maybe 10% of your students. Leaves yeh with more time and resources to reach da other 90%.


Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Beavah, there is a clear distinction between an organization targeting its services to a specific population and excluding (barring) a specific population from taking advantage of those services.


LGBT programs do target that community, however, they do not bar hetrosexuals from service. Example: You have a question about your gay brother, you can get advice a LGBT program. They will serve you, even though you are hetero.


Women's clinics target their services to women, men are not barred from taking advantage of them. Example: you have a question about your wife's health and want confidential advice. The women's clinic will help you. They serve both sexes.


Again the distinction is BSA wants to ban a segment of the population from its services. None of the afformentioned organizations do that.


BTW, I do think the military ban on homosexuals is illegal and will be overturned soon.

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Splittin' hairs too fine, Gern. What if I don't have a gay brother? What if I'm not married?


Da BSA will happily answer questions about your theist son even if you are atheist. They'll happily provide help in understanding your hetero son even if you are gay. And da reality as we all know is that we do continue to provide services to lads who are strugglin' with belief and claim to be atheists, and to lads who are strugglin' with sexuality and claim to be gay. That's more than a women's clinic will do for me, eh? :)


Da military's position may be overturned by the democratic process through the executive branch and congress, eh? Expectin' da courts to do it over da objections of the other two branches is quite a stretch. But I reckon even then that da military will continue to provide denominational chaplains. ;)


B(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Then lets just say that BSA is NOT excluding athiests or gays, but instead - BSA is just targeting it's services to God believeing heterosexuals.


Well, we are good to go now! I guess it's time to tell all the courts to toss out all the lawsuits and tell Merlyn it's time to chase after somebody else...right?





Problem is that patient cinfidentiality say they cannot even tell your husband unless he IS THE patient, which he is not. But let's follow that logic shall we:


The clinic still does not offer any treatment to the husband ( AKA men), They would only be explaining treatment options that the wife ( AKA a woman) could/is recieving. The man himself cannot get or recieve any treatment.


Again, following that example. we do not have to actually allow anybody into scouting that isn't our "TARGET POPULATION" . All we have to do is tell them about what the scouts are doing.


BTW, I think the military ban on gays is just flat out stupid. I have yet to see any reason why sexual orientation should/could/would affect ability to fight in a war.


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I have yet to see any reason why sexual orientation should/could/would affect ability to fight in a war.


Oh, I dunno Scoutfish.


Let's say, for example, that we're fightin' a war in a conservative Islamic nation, where homosexuality remains a religious taboo.


Do yeh think it would perhaps make it harder for locals to cooperate with us? For tribesmen to take our side and fight alongside us?


Do yeh think perhaps it would make the enemy fight harder so as to avoid da stigma of losing to such a force?


Do yeh think perhaps it would make recruiting easier for the enemy?



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I can'timagine it would be any different than women in Kuwait/ Afghanistan / Itag or any other Islamic country that thinks women should be behind men, out of sight, uneducated and sub serviant.



Couldn't be much different how we acted to our Navajo soldiers during WWI, our ANMERICAN citizens soldierr of Asian persuasion during WWII or any other non caucasion American soldier's treatment by us.


Thing is, we didn't suddenly drop women during Iraq or Kuwait. Besides that, since I don't see us outlawing homosexuality in general every days laws, then that signifies to those countries that America is generally okay with it.


Add in that those soldier won't have pink cammies or BDU, not have a sexual oriented unit patch ot what not, I can't see how thosr guys could tell who is who.

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Beavah, you are the one splitting hairs.

The mission of the BSA is to serve the youth. Their own policies state they only serve hetero, God fearing youth. They will not serve athiest or homosexual youth. Period.


How can a BSA unit be owned by a public entity and not serve all youth?

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Your comment about "Let's say, for example, that we're fightin' a war in a conservative Islamic nation, where homosexuality remains a religious taboo. " is just plain stupid.


Let's say, for example, that we're fightin' a war in an overtly racist nation, where dark skin remains a taboo.


Should we de-integrate the Army just to appease our enemy?

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In regard to A.P.Hill, you will find if you go back and look, that over the years the BSA has paid large amounts to cover various costs at the Jambo.


While the above is true, they did not pay the US Army. That was paid for by me - via my tax dollars and by my attendance fee for myself and my two sons.


THE US GOVERNMENT HEAVILY FUNDED THE NATIONAL JAMBOREE in 2005, just not in direct payments to the BSA. There are no two ways about it and I think folks like Merlyn and other have a legitimate beef about why the US Government would spend so much. I know they claim "mutually beneficial" as a reason but I personnally think that is a stretch.


Reading about the fatal tragedy at the Boy Scout Jamboree, two things struck me. First of all, the death of four people in front of their entire troop really is a horrible tragedy, and given the way that it appears the four died, I cant imagine itll be all that easy for some of the kids to recover from that. In an entirely different vein, though, I also realized that the Jamboree is taking place on federal land the Armys Fort A.P. Hill which means that our government still feels it appropriate to give access, funding, and support to an organization that specifically excludes gay, athiest, and agnostic people. I honestly dont understand how this can still be occurring.


Doing a little reading this evening about the state of our governments Boy Scout support, I discovered a few interesting things. First, I learned that a judge in the Northern Illinois U.S. District Court issued a ruling earlier this month which bars government support of future Boy Scouts Jamborees. The decision is available (in PDF form) from the ACLUs website; it contains a thorough description of how the Boy Scouts meet the standard of a religious organization, and as such, how explicit government support thus violates the Constitutions prohibition of a link between government and religion. Seems logical to me, and would seem to put this whole issue to bed. Oh, if it were only that easy.


The other thing I learned tonight demonstrates why its not that easy; it revolves around an argument made by the government in the Illinois court case that has set the stage for at least one future attempt to maintain government support of the Boy Scouts. Essentially, the U.S. claimed that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit people who, as federal taxpayers, brought suit under their right to exercise oversight over the way their tax money was being spent lack standing to claim harm because the money wasnt spent pursuant to the clause of the Constitution dealing with taxation and government spending (Article I, section 8, clause 1). Instead, the Department of Defense claimed that their support of the Boy Scout Jamboree derived from the specific powers vested in Congress over military affairs (Article I, section 8, clauses 12-14), and as such, taxpayers wouldnt have the same right to question the way the money is spent. The District Court judge found ample evidence that the money was spent at least in part under Congress taxation and spending authority, and dismissed the argument. The reason this is interesting to me is that it appears our Senate took note of this, and passed an amendment to the Defense Department spending bill yesterday, an amendment which explicitly allows the Secretary of Defense to support the Boy Scout Jamboree on the basis of it being required for defending our national security and preparing for combat. (To see the amendment, you can follow this link to the Congressional Record documents, click the link to page S8686, and then scroll down two or three screens to SA 1342, the relevant text.)


Now you see why I find this so fascinating? Its clear that the Constitution forbids our government from supporting organizations that mandate religious faith (like the Boy Scouts), and its also pretty clear that theres no way the Senate would get the country to amend that ban out of the Constitution. So in order to get around it, the Senate is trying to pass laws that aim to prevent ordinary taxpayers from having sufficient standing to bring suit what we do might be unconstitutional, but you dont have the right to file a court case to demonstrate that, so we can do it anyway. And as the final straw, they did all of it by declaring that the Boy Scout Jamboree is vital for national security.


Ignoring fundamental prohibitions built into our Constitution is pretty bad but getting caught doing so, and then responding by passing laws which aim to restrict oversight of the unconstitutional actions, is worse. - Jason Levine


By Dan Caterinicchia

Associated Press

A federal judge has ruled the Pentagon can no longer spend millions in government money to ready a Virginia military base for a national Boy Scout event typically held every four years, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday.


U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning's June 22 order stems from a 1999 lawsuit by the ACLU of Illinois that claimed the Defense Department sponsorship violates the First Amendment because the Scouts require members to swear an oath of duty to God.


Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller said Thursday the government was still considering its options.


The order doesn't cover this year's National Scout Jamboree, which start July 25 and is expected to draw more than 40,000 people to Fort A.P. Hill, Va.


A Scouts spokesman said he expects the Pentagon's lawyers to appeal.


"We are confident that an appeal to the 7th Circuit will return everything to the status quo," Bob Bork said.


ACLU of Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka said no other youth organization receives millions of dollars in government support, and that the injunction is the latest step toward ending the Scouts' unfair advantage.


The Defense Department notified the Chicago federal court in April that it would support this summer's jamboree, despite a ruling by Manning in March that the department's aid was unconstitutional. The government argued at the time that the ruling wasn't final.


The government aid, which amounted to $6 million and $8 million respectively for the jamborees in 1997 and 2001, was used to transport military personnel and other goods there, according to Manning's March order. The government expected to pay about $7.3 million for this year's jamboree.


Jamboree activities include archery, biking, a confidence course, environmental conservation programs and kayaking, according to the Scouts' Web site.


The Rev. Eugene Winkler, a Methodist minister who is one of the plaintiffs in the case, said he got involved because he did not agree with the use of taxpayer money to support the Scouts.


"We're not attacking the Scouts and neither is the ACLU," Winkler said. "This issue is not about the Boy Scouts at all. It's about government funding for religious purposes. It's about separation" of church and state.


Coincidence or not, the National Jamboree is moving away from the US Army/Federal Government and on to West Virginia on BSA owned property, starting in 2014.


I'll say one thing I like about Jambo. Seeing cocky, disrepectful teenage boys (13 - 17) who are used to pushing the buttons of their scout leaders get a faceful from a 19 year old private with an M-16 (who never took youth protection training!) to "get the hell out of the road" was worth the price of admission! :)

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While not taking either side on wether the Army or any other military branch should or should not support BSA...I think they could - under using such support as advertising and recruitment. Meaning that by sponsoring an event of the magnatude of Jamboree, they are showiug a ton of boys a glimps of military life and all kinds of "Cool stuff" that may sway some of those scouts into joining the military.


Take air shows for example. Yeah, the pilots get to polish their egos and alot of brass gets to hold boasting rights. But the biggets payoff for hosting a air show ( which isn't cheap at all) is the potential future recruits.


Look at the movies: Heatbreak Ridge, Top Gun, Firebirds, GI Jane,that one with Kevin Costner in the USCG( can't remember the name) , and Hunt for Red October. Great movies that the government was glad to help out with. Why? Well...look at Top Gun... I remember reading that the Navy had it's biggest ever boost in numbers of new recruits since WWII after that movie came out.


Again, not saying the Army should or should not suport BSA or hold Jambo there any more, but saying they might just do it anyway every now and then ( or at least want to) and could easily say that it's an advertisement and recruiting campain.


And who could argue that?



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I could, of course. Given recent instances of discrimination against atheists in the US military, they should hardly recruit from an organization that denigrates atheists. And the military didn't just show up at the jamboree, they helped pay for about 1/3 the cost.

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And I guessing, Merlyn, you think the extra training and experience the armed forces got out of setting up and running and tearing down for Jamboree was a bad thing. Would you rather see your tax dollars spent building foot baths for Muslims?

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If the US military only paid for its own expenses and offered to do the same for any other similar large outdoor gathering, it would probably be OK, just as schools can install floor sinks if a lot of students wash their feet for whatever reason. But that isn't what the military did; they helped finance a private organization that excludes atheists.

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