Philadelphia Offers Settlement to Boy Scouts

City-owned headquarters may be sold

Ten years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the Boy Scouts of America to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The 5-4 ruling said that since the Boy Scouts are a “member organization,” it had the right to exclude gays.

After almost a decade of legal battles, today, the City of Philadelphia may stop trying to evict the Cradle of Liberty Council Boy Scouts from the group’s city-owned headquarters near Logan Square by selling the building to them at half the valued $1 million price tag it’s estimated to be worth.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Beaux Arts-style building the Scouts have been using for the last 80 years, which dates back to the Depression Era, would be sold for $500,000 if both sides agree and the Scouts do not seek $1 million in compensation for legal costs from the city.

The ordinance to push through this sale of the headquarters was introduced by City Solicitor Shelly Smith. The Mayor’s Office, however, did not say if the deal is final. And according to the Inquirer, Councilman Darrell L. Clarke, whose district the building occupies, did not agree to the deal as of yet.

For gays and lesbians in Philadelphia, the decision can hardly be considered a victory.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Boy Scouts a decade ago, because the headquarters at 22nd and Winter Streets is city property, Philadelphia had the option to evict the Scouts without actually violating the organization’s constitutional rights. At one point the Scouts were ordered to vacate the building (which the group had occupied rent-free) or else lease it for an estimated $200,000 per year.

The Boy Scouts, who have been fighting the case in U.S. District court, refused to evict. The local chapter also has headquarters in Valley Forge.