Jack Pollock
Two months ago, the Boy Scouts of America fought James Dale, a gay assistant Scoutmaster who sued the organization for firing him when they found out he is gay. They took their gripe--that having a homo hanging around runs counter to their Godly mission--all the way to the Supreme Court. In Dale v. Boy Scouts of America, the Justices declared that, indeed, the Scouts is a private organization and can decide its own policies about membership--even if it's bigotry.

Since then, there has been a surprising exodus away from the Scouts. Chicago, San Jose, and San Francisco have banned the Scouts from using parks, schools, and other municipal sites. Even Chase Manhattan Bank, one of the Scout's Daddy Warbucks, has refused to hand over any more money.

Portland is slowly following suit, but, like a reluctant hiker, is still dragging its feet. On March 15, the City Council lobbied their opposition against the Scouts in the Dale case. In a resolution, they announced: "The Council wishes to affirm its support for equal rights for all citizens including gays, lesbians, and bi-sexuals."

Unfortunately, prior to the resolution, Portland had already established a supportive environment for the exclusionary practices of the Scouts. Portland Public Schools are now in their second year of a legal battle against an atheist mother who sued the school district for allowing the Scouts to recruit--using Christian rhetoric-- at Harvey Scott Elementary School. Not only has the school district defended their partnership with the Scouts, they've also accepted money from them to pay their hefty legal bills.

Once again, the city of Portland has given lip service to something they are completely unwilling to throw their weight behind. If genuinely concerned with the implications of the Supreme Court decision, there are a number of things that the City can do to truly battle bigotry: How about prohibiting the Scouts from public property? How about asking the United Way to revoke its $250,000 annual sponsorship of the Scouts? Or just simply end the 10-year partnership between the Oregon Boy Scouts and Portland Public Schools. This relationship validates the Scout's discrimination of sexual preferences. Here's a case where doing nothing is the same as endorsement.