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December 21, 2012

Court Says Gay Ban No Bar to San Diego Deal with Boy Scouts

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the city of San Diego can lease public land to the Boy Scouts of America despite the organization's membership ban on homosexuals, atheists, and agnostics, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters report.

Overturning a lower-court decision, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that San Diego was not engaging in discrimination by leasing portions of two city parks to the Scouts for a camping program. A group of lesbians and gays challenged the deal in court, saying the youth charity's policies prevented them from using the land.

The Scouts organization rents the land for $1 and is responsible for maintenance and improvements. The appeals court said the arrangement is similar to dozens of other city deals with nonprofit groups and that "its purpose was to provide facilities and services for youth activities," not advance a religious interest.