Restricted access (10/13/01)
On June 28, 2000, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America are not required to allow homosexuals to be members. Now, as many of you know, I am an espouser of many dangerous, crazy-liberal ideas, including socialized health care, the now-defunct Equal Rights Amendment, keeping religion out of public schools, etc. So I feel the need to express my satisfaction at the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Boy Scouts of America - BSA - are a private organization, and they should not be able to be forced to include those who they sincerely believe do not belong in its ranks. I believe there are some legitimate concerns regarding state and federal funding of BSA activities because of their discriminatory policies, but the solution should not be one of government-enforced diversity. The BSA, just like the KKK, can privately be as bigoted as they please. However, as you may have detected, I hold that the correctness of the Supreme Court’s ruling has little to do with the correctness of the Scouts’ position.
If you didn’t know, we attend a university that has consistently refused to explicitly include the issue of sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy, alternately claiming a) it’s an unwise decision because it is not required by state or federal law and b) sexual orientation is covered by “gender” in the existing non-discrimination policy. Our own Student Senate, discussing a nondiscrimination policy, has discarded sexual orientation while it continues to deliberate over ethnicity and other issues.
How are BSA and events at VU connected? They’re both part of the “we won’t because we don’t have to” mentality and a position that allows for anti-gay discrimination because it is a “lifestyle choice” and not an inherent characteristic. The major difference between the groups is that the BSA has recognized the ramifications of their position, whereas VU doesn’t appear to have done so.
What’s the problem with discriminationation against homosexuals based on their “lifestyle choices?” Let’s assume Student Senate gets past its logistical difficulties and does indeed accept a nondiscrimination policy which prohibits discrimination on the basis of, say, gender and ethnicity. Now, what’s to keep them from effectively barring Catholics from holding a Student Senate seat, provided they approach it as a “lifestyle choice?”
Am I being facetious? Only partly. There is plenty of room to declare Catholicism a choice - that’s what confirmation is for, after all - and there’s plenty of anti-Catholic rhetoric to draw from if one wished to declare Catholics unfit for senate seats, especially at a Lutheran university. As I mentioned, the BSA already take advantage of this natural extension of their no-homosexuals policy: they exclude agnostics and atheists from the organization.
Couldn’t happen here? Maybe. But I never thought I’d see “Yes, we are intolerant - deal with it or leave” scrawled on the sidewalk two years ago in response to National Coming Out Day chalking. Do Student Senate and VU in general have to accept homosexuals? No; the Supreme Court has told us that. But a precedent is a dangerous thing.
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