Boy Scouts: Homosexuality and the right of Expression

Gay groups had been, and still is, complaining about gay discrimination in our country. This is a sensitive matter, specially if we consider admission of gays into traditional institutions like the military, the church and the boy scouts (Boy Scout of the Philippines). Let  focus on the boys scouts, primarily because there already a decided U.S. case on this matter.

In Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000), the Boy Scouts of America (“Boy Scouts”) asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the system of values it is instilling in young people. It fired an assistant scoutmaster (Mr. Dale) upon learning that he is an avowed homosexual and gay rights activist. Arguing that the Boy Scouts violated the state statute (New Jersey) prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in places of public accommodation, Mr. Dale filed a case against the Boys Scouts.

The United States Supreme Court, after determining that the Boy Scouts is an “expressive association” under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment* , ruled that the state cannot force the Boy Scouts to include Mr. Dale, as this would significantly affect the group’s right of expression (the Boy Scouts took an oficial position with respect to homosexual conduct). The US Supreme Court also said:

We are not, as we must not be, guided by our views of whether the Boy Scouts teachings with respect to homosexual conduct are right or wrong; public or judicial disapproval of a tenet of an organization expression does not justify the State effort to compel the organization to accept members where such acceptance would derogate from the organization expressive message. While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government.

The First Amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This is similar to the language of Article 3, Sections 4 and 5 of the Philippine Constitution.

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