PHILADELPHIA — Either local Boy Scouts are victims of a "gay agenda" driven by aggressive rights activists, or their own anti-gay publicity forced the city to order them out of rent-free space, jurors were told Tuesday.
Deliberations start today in the U.S. District Court case to decide if the Scouts can be forced out of city-owned offices because they will not renounce the national organization's ban against homosexuals.
Starkly different versions of the case were offered Tuesday during final arguments.
The Scouts' attorney argued that gay rights activists plotted, with the help of sympathetic city officials, to force the Scouts out of their building near Logan Square. The city countered that it was forced to act after the Scouts issued a news release announcing their decision to forbid gay Scouts or troop leaders.
At issue is a 1928 lease that made available to the Scouts a half-acre of city land, about a block from Logan Square, for $1 a year. In 2007, after years of negotiations, the city said it would not subsidize discrimination and ordered the Cradle of Liberty Council to vacate the property or start paying $200,000 a year in rent.
The Scouts say that violated their right to free speech and due process.