- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Two homosexual men say they are not sure whether they will continue their decadelong fight to be reinstated as Boy Scouts of America leaders after a recent D.C. Court of Appeals decision.
The three-member appeals panel said Thursday that the organization did not act illegally in keeping Roland D. Pool and Michael Geller from serving as troop leaders. The ruling followed a June 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Mr. Pool and Mr. Geller can appeal the decision either to the full D.C. Court of Appeals by next week or the U.S. Supreme Court within 90 days.
Gregg Shields, the national spokesman for the Dallas-based Boy Scouts of America, said yesterday that the organization is pleased with the ruling and believes this will be the end of litigation in the case.
"The court of appeals held up our constitutional right to determine our standards of leadership," Mr. Shields said. He also said no other sexual-orientation cases involving the Boy Scouts are pending.
Mr. Geller said he and his attorneys are considering whether to pursue further legal action.
"My gut reaction was extreme disappointment," he said.
The men originally filed the complaint with the D.C. Human Rights Commission in January 1998, six years after the Boy Scouts expelled them because of their sexual orientation. The commission ordered the men reinstated, citing a violation of the District's Human Rights Act of 1977.
One year before the ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the organization was justified in ejecting James Dale, an assistant scoutmaster.
The high court said the Boy Scouts had a right to "expressive association" under the First Amendment, allowing them to determine whether a potential member would hinder the group's mission.
The court decision last week will also keep Mr. Geller and Mr. Pool from receiving the $50,000 in damages they were granted by the commission in 2001.
Mr. Geller, 40, works at the World Bank and joined the Boy Scouts on his 11th birthday. Mr. Geller said he realized he was homosexual in 1983 but didn't become aware of the group's policy until 1992. He wrote a letter protesting the exclusionary rules and was ordered to end relations with the group.
His co-complainant, Mr. Pool, 41, became a Boy Scout at 13 and later an Eagle Scout. He was active in the organization until 1985. He found out about the ban on homosexual members through a newspaper article and was encouraged by the American Civil Liberties Union to join the lawsuit.
Evan Wolfson, the lead counsel for Mr. Dale in the Supreme Court case, deplored the recent ruling, saying it and the high court's 2000 decision allow the Scouts' administrators to use a policy that is contrary to what youths are taught in the organization: acceptance of themselves and others.
"It's obviously an exclusionary policy that tells gay kids that they are unhealthy and unwelcome," Mr. Wolfson said. "It is also harmful to non-gay kids because it tells them that discrimination is OK."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide