Stephen A. Glassman's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer last Thursday took Rick Santorum to task over his support for the Boy Scouts. In spite of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the Boy Scouts have the right to decide who they allow in leadership, Glassman wants the Boy Scouts to pay for their "discrimination" against gays.
The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations enforces the Fair Employment Practices Act, which requires that we treat all people fairly and equally in the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. We are very fortunate to live in Philadelphia, the nation's first capital, where liberty and freedom ignited the flames of revolution for which our forbearers fought and died in a war of independence.
The Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, for example, is headquartered right here in Philadelphia. They are apparently looking for a new home. Therefore, I propose a novel solution to this problem. Why not give the Boy Scout's headquarters, which they have occupied rent free for the last 80 years, to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters who welcome everyone into their programs to help young people in need of positive role models, and let the Boy Scouts pay fair market rent in the location where the "BIGS" are currently located?
Glassman's selective reporting is misleading, to put it mildly. Here's how the Boy Scouts describe the way they occupied their headquarters "rent free for the last 80 years:"
A move to evict the Cradle of Liberty Council also would unjustly enrich the City at Scouting's expense. Boy Scouts built the Council's headquarters in 1929 using its own funds and in the 79 years since has invested millions of dollars to renovate and maintain the building. The Council spent more than $1.5 million of its charitable resources for substantial renovations in 1994, and presently spends about $60,000 each year just to maintain the historic building.
Maybe if the city of Philadelphia reimbursed the Boy Scouts for the millions spent on the building, that would be fair. Or the Big Brothers/Big Sisters could buy the building from the Scouts. But taking it without any compensation would be wrong.
Of course, for Glassman the whole point is to punish the Boy Scouts for taking a constitutional stand to protect young boys from harm. He's not interested in fairness.
Here's an article on the Philadelphia/Boy Scouts issue from the International Herald-Tribune of December 6, 2007. It has some good detail on both sides of the question.