Published December 02, 2007
The Philadelphia Boy Scouts could find themselves booted from their historic dowtown headquarters Monday unless a dispute with City Hall over the group's anti-gay policies is resolved.
The Cradle of Liberty Council—Philadelphia's Boy Scout chapter—has been housed in an historic building in downtown Philly for almost 80 years, paying almost nothing for the prime piece of proprety under the terms of a 100-year sweetheart lease it inked with the city in 1928. But that lease is set to expire, and city officials say the taxpayer's shouldn't be footing the Scouts rent bill because of it's national policy banning openly gay members and leaders. The Scouts must either pony up the fair market rent for the space—about $200,000 a year—or find a new home.
"If they want to accept the national policies of the Boy Scout organization they have to be able to pay for it," said Philadelphia City Councilman Jack Kelly.
According to a letter the Boy Scouts received from City Solicitor Rome Diaz, the Boy Scouts have until Dec. 3 to sign a new lease and start paying for the use of the property, or the city will find a new tennant and the scouts will be evicted.
Diaz, who is openly gay, refused FOX News' request for an interview.
Cradle of Liberty Council member John Braxton, a retired judge and former Eagle Scout, said the Scouts can't afford the steep rent increase. He said the Scouts' policy on gays is "don't ask, don't tell."
"I have known persons who have been gay within our scouting program," Braxton said. "We never ran them out. They're Eagle scouts, they're achievers, and what they do in their personal sexual life is not an issue within their scouting life," he said.
J.R. Brockman, scoutmaster for Troop 133, said he was surprised that the city council was taking such a position against the scouts.
"You would think that a program such as ours would be embraced," Brockman said.
Kelly said he hopes the city and the scouts could still work out a compromise. But with Monday's deadline fast approaching, the Philadelphia Boy Scouts may have to be loyal, helpful, friendly and kind someplace else.
Fox News' Rick Levanthal contributed to this report.