- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2000

CAPE ST. CLAIRE, Md. About 250 parents, Boy Scouts and political leaders rallied last night to urge the community association to continue its sponsorship of the local troop, in danger because of the group's views on homosexuals.

The Cape St. Claire Improvement Association has threatened to stop sponsoring Troop/Pack 707 and allowing the boys to meet at its community center for free after it declared the Boy Scouts to be a discriminatory organization. The Scouts consider homosexuality contrary to their oath requiring scouts to be "morally straight."

The association, a nonprofit made up of 12 residents, has sponsored the local pack and troop for about 30 years. The threat to withdraw sponsorship came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that the Boy Scouts can bar homosexuals from serving as troop leaders. The ruling also allows the 6.2-million-member private organization to reject homosexuals as members.

The community association was expected to vote on whether to continue its sponsorship at its monthly meeting late last night.

"They should let the Scouts use the schools, churches and community centers," said Nathan Bolger, an 11-year-old Boy Scout who belongs to Troop 995. "There's no reason to kick them out. They're not doing anything immoral."

"It's a shame to have to explain this issue to 7- and 8-year-old children," said Kathy Sanders of Podikory Point, Md., who is a den leader of the senior Webelos 707. "It's a shame that it's had to come to this."

After the rally in a waterfront park near its community center, parents and Boy Scouts stood in a line that wrapped around the center's main entrance to attend the meeting.

"That clubhouse belongs to everyone in the community," said Mike Travers, a chartered organizational representative for Pack 783.

"It's not just a place to meet, it's a sponsor that says you'll always have a place to meet," Mr. Travers said.

The center where Pack 707 meets is a privately owned facility whose upkeep is paid for by neighborhood residents. Community officials said yesterday afternoon that the association's board of governors began to question whether to continue sponsoring the troops after the Supreme Court announced its decision.

Community officials said the group would lose its nonprofit status if it continued sponsoring the local troop.

If the association does withdraw its sponsorship, the Scouts still can use the center but would have to pay a fee to do so. It was not clear last night what the fee would be.

Homosexual-rights activists have organized a series of rallies across the country to protest the Boy Scouts' stance.

"They're going after high-profile organizations like the Boy Scouts as if they were the KKK," said Tres Kerns, executive director for Citizens for Parents' Rights and a former assistant Scoutmaster. "It's only going to hurt their movement rather than help them."

Mr. Kerns said he and other activists collected hundreds of signatures from nearby residents in support of the troop.

"The Boy Scouts are as American as apple pie and baseball. This organization trains boys to be men and responsible citizens," said Robert Knight, the senior director of cultural studies for the Family Research Council. "Those individuals, companies and governments who have a long record of support for the Scouts shouldn't be bullied into cutting their ties with this respectable organization."

Alan Keyes, a former U.N. Ambassador and presidential candidate, told the Boy Scouts last night not to sit back and listen, but to continue their fight to protect moral conduct.

"We have the right to raise our children according to our own beliefs and shape their judgments according to our beliefs. If we are not allowed to walk the walk then our rights mean nothing," Mr. Keyes said as he stood next to signs that read "Scouting is good for America" and "Keep the Scouts in the Cape."

Others like Jeff Johnston, executive manager of Regeneration, a ministry for former homosexuals, encouraged the Boy Scouts to hold onto their beliefs and principles.

"When groups like the Boy Scouts take a stand for traditional morality, upholding the sanctity of marriage and sexual purity, they are not acting in a bigoted or hateful manner," Mr. Johnston said. "They are simply upholding deeply held beliefs and principles. They are exercising their right to free association and standing against homosexual behavior. They are acting in the best interests of their members."

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