Boosting the Scouts’ ban – no federal funds to schools that deny use to Boy Scout’s because of its antigay policy – Brief Article
Sen. Jesse Helms was up to his old tricks June 14, when the Senate voted 51-49 to approve the North Carolina Republican’s legislation to keep federal funds from school districts that refuse facilities to the Boy Scouts of America because of its antigay policy. Gay activists, though, say the legislation is nothing more than political posturing. “It is a sad day that Helms [and others] have teamed up to offer antigay amendments in 2001,” said Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the gay lobby group Human Rights Campaign. “This is exactly the message that the Republican Party should not adopt,” she added, given that the party’s hard line on social issues influenced Vermont senator Jim Jeffords’s recent decision to leave the GOP and become an independent.
The Helms measure was attached as an amendment to a major education bill backed by the White House and currently moving through Congress. The House version of the bill contains similar language. But gay groups hoped that in crafting the final version of the bill, to be sent to the president’s desk, legislators would remove the provision and substitute an alternative amendment, offered by Democratic senator Barbara Boxer of California, that would essentially water down the Helms amendment.
Meanwhile, at the BSA’s national meeting, held in Boston in late May, representatives of the Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orange County, Calif., councils proposed that the Scouts allow chartering organizations to decide for themselves whether to welcome gay members and troop leaders. However, BSA spokesman Gregg Shields hinted to The Boston Globe that the proposal wouldn’t get far, since its backers only “represent a minority” of councils.
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