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By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
WASHINGTON – On July 26, Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow joined a 98-0 majority in supporting federal funding for Boy Scout activities on military bases.
Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, S.A. 1342, known as the Frist Amendment, was added to the defense authorization bill which is being negotiated by the House and Senate. The bill will come up again when the Senate reconvenes in September.
At first glance, the amendment seems to be a broad statement in support of allowing youth groups access to U.S. military facilities. However, the amendment mentions the Boy Scouts specifically a total of eight times.
According to a July 26 CNN report, the amendment was proposed in response to a June 22 U.S. District Court ruling banning the Pentagon from sponsoring Boy Scout events.
According to the CNN report, “[The judge] said in an earlier ruling that the government spent between $6 million and $8 million to host the [Scout] Jamboree on a military base in 1997 and 2001.”
The Scout Jamboree is specifically mentioned in the Frist amendment, which says, “The Secretary of Defense shall provide at least the same level of support under this section for a national or world Boy Scout Jamboree as was provided under this section for the preceding national or world Boy Scout Jamboree.”
The Boy Scouts of America discriminates against gay, atheist and agnostic youth and men in its membership practices, and is legally permitted to do so under a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision which ruled that the Boy Scouts is a private organization.
“We have certainly let our disappointment be known to Senators Levin and Stabenow,” said Triangle Foundation Director of Policy Sean Kosofsky. “It is unfortunate that an organization that prides itself on discrimination is given such preferential treatment in Congress.”
Neither Senator Levin nor Senator Stabenow responded to requests for a statement by press time.
Contact Senators Levin and Stabenow, and your U.S. Representative, and let them know that you don’t want your tax dollars being spent to support the Boy Scouts, or any other private organization that discriminates against LGBTs and/or those who do not profess a religion.
Senator Carl Levin – 269 Russell Office Building, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510-2202. Call 202-224-6221. Email Senator Levin by visiting the Contact Center on his website at http://www.senate.gov/~levin.
Senator Debbie Stabenow – 133 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510. Call 202-224-4822 or TTY: 202-224-2066 or e-mail email@example.com.
To find your U.S. Representative, visit Project Vote Smart at http://www.vote-smart.org or call the U.S. Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.