The Boy Scouts of America revoked the membership of lifelong scout and Assistant Scoutmaster James Dale after the organization discovered he was co-president of Rutgers University’s Lesbian and Gay Alliance. The scouts said, “the standards for leadership established by the Boy Scouts of America . . . specifically forbid membership to homosexuals.”
RULING: The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favor of the BSA’s bigotry, saying that the court could not force an organization “to accept members where such acceptance would derogate from the organization’s expressive message.” The decision also said that the issue wasn’t whether the Scouts were right or wrong, but whether laws should interfere with an organization’s right to free speech.
WHAT STEVENS DID: Stevens was on the dissenting side once again. In his dissent, he said that “every state law prohibiting discrimination is designed to replace prejudice with principle… It is plain as the light of day that neither one of these principles – ‘morally straight’ and ‘clean’ – says the slightest thing about homosexuality.”
WHY IT MATTERS TODAY: The Boy Scout in question, Dale James, said, “My lawyer, Evan Wolfson from Lambda Legal Defense, has argued an incredible case, and I don’t think any other attorney could have gotten that one other vote. The dissenting opinion was so strong and now Americans can’t think of the Boy Scouts of America without thinking of the issue of homosexuality. The Boy Scouts have forever tarnished their image with this case. Granted, I would have loved to be the victor in this case, but in the end, the only thing you’re really going to remember is that they are the losers in all of this.” Agreed, especially since the BSA just celebrated its 100th anniversary by unveiling decades worth of sexual abuse.