Tempe Won't Contribute
to Boy Scouts
The City of Tempe is the seventh largest city in Arizona. Arizona State University, the seventh largest university in the country, is located in Tempe. According to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council Tempe is a "progressive, sophisticated city" and is a "center of learning, culture and technology with a diversified economic base and highly educated population." This center of culture now finds itself in the center of a swirling controversy regarding one of the most recognized organizations in America - The Boy Scouts.
Boy Scouts of America ("BSA"), with nearly 6 million members in the U.S., is not unfamiliar with controversy. There has been much written about the case of James Dale v. Boy Scouts of America in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling of 1999. James Dale joined the Boy Scouts when he was 8 years old. He earned many merit badges and honors culminating in his being awarded the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout before he was expelled after local scouting officials learned that he was gay. For more than 10 years he has been fighting a legal battle with BSA. The final word in all matters judicial, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that the Boy Scouts of America has the right to restrict its membership since it is a private religious organization.1
As a result of that ruling, Tempe has become the first city in the Phoenix metro area to instruct the United Way not to provide any of the donated funds raised by the city to the Boy Scouts. According to The Arizona Republic, Tempe "is simply asking the Valley of the Sun United Way not to give Tempe money to groups that discriminate." The City has also asked that United Way draft a non-discrimination policy and has threatened to withdraw support if it does not. The Republic reports that United Way has responded saying that they already have such a policy, and that because of the Supreme Court ruling they are not in violation of that non-discriminatory policy. The Mayor of Tempe, Neil Guiliano, is homosexual.
The day the story appeared on the front page of the local paper, the United Way, the City of Tempe and the Mayor received hundreds of phone calls regarding the city's stance on the subject. The issue of the restriction of the donations will apparently be raised at the City Council level. The Mayor of Tempe believes that the city is doing the right thing by upholding the anti-discrimination principles of the city. Opponents believe that employees should have the right to direct their donations as they see fit.
UPDATE: OCTOBER 6, 2000
Last night the Tempe City Council "ended a two week public uproar by reversing an attempt to keep city workers' donations from going to the Boy Scouts of America through United Way because of the Scouts' exclusion of gays" reported The Arizona Republic.
1As discussed in an article written by Larry A. Taylor entitled "Scouting: How Your Tax Dollars Support The Boy Scouts."
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