- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

A congressional amendment to the District's appropriations bill Tuesday undercut a June ruling by the D.C. Commission on Human Rights to reinstate two homosexual Boy Scout leaders.
The amendment, introduced by U.S. Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana, prohibits the D.C. government from spending money to collect a penalty assessed by the commission against the Scouts for what the commission says was discrimination against two men.
"It basically takes the teeth out of the ruling," Michael Jahr, spokesman for Mr. Hostettler, said yesterday. Mr. Jahr said passage of the amendment makes the human rights commission's ruling "another sheet of paper floating around the bureaucracy."
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who had backed the District's human rights commission, unsuccessfully tried to blunt the impact of Mr. Hostettler's amendment by asking Congress to limit the prohibition to just federal funds.
"This is not even-handed," she said yesterday. "It says the decision, which is against the Boy Scouts, cannot be enforced."
Mrs. Norton said Congress at least should have waited until the case, appealed by the Boy Scouts in July to a D.C. appeals court, was decided.
Mr. Jahr acknowledged that Mr. Hostettler's action would last only as long as this year's appropriations, but said an appeals court decision could render the issue moot by next year. If not, he said Mr. Hostettler would consider introducing another amendment in the next appropriations package.
In the meantime, he said it was important to send a message that Congress did not support the commission's ruling.
"Since Washington, D.C., is a national city, what goes on here ought to reflect the values of the nation," he said.
In June, almost eight years after Roland Pool and Michael Geller filed their complaints with the commission and nearly one year after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Scouts' right to ban homosexuals, the commission ordered the Boy Scouts to reinstate the troop leaders and pay them $50,000 each plus legal fees.
"The decision of the commission runs counter to our most basic liberties and, as such, must be stopped," Mr. Hostettler, a Republican, said on the House floor Tuesday.
In June, Mr. Hostettler introduced the Boy Scouts' Constitutional Rights Protection Act, which mirrored the language in Tuesday's amendment. That bill was shelved in committee. His amendment Tuesday passed 262-152.
Gregg Shields, the spokesman for the Boy Scouts, said the organization "appreciates" Mr. Hostettler's continuing support, but would not comment on the passage of his amendment.
"We are an entirely apolitical organization, so we don't take positions, pro or con, on House bills, Senate bills or local legislation, even when it might directly affect us," he said.

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