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Philadelphia must pay Boy Scouts’ legal fees over eviction for anti-gay policy

Sunday, March 25, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge last week ordered the city of Philadelphia to pay nearly $900,000 in legal fees to the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, following the city’s failed attempt to evict the Scouts from a city-owned building because of its anti-gay policy.

Judge Ronald Buckwalter also said the city of is not entitled to a new trial in the case. The city had challenged the instructions issued to the jury and said verdict was inconsistent, reported the Philadelphia Gay News.

The jury in the 2010 trial found that the city imposed an “unconstitutional condition” on the Cradle of Liberty Council by ordering it to depart from the national agency’s policy of barring openly gay members in order to comply with the city’s LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law and avoid eviction from its city-owned building.

However, it did find in the city’s favor on questions of viewpoint discrimination and equal-protection claims.

Since 2008, the city has been trying to evict the local scouts group, the Cradle of Liberty Council, from the city owned building it occupies because the council won’t accept gays and refuses to pay rent.

The city insisted at a June 2010 trial that non-profit organizations that are given free use of its property must abide by local anti-discrimination laws, which include equal protection for gays and lesbians.

But the jury found the city’s reason violated the local Scout council’s First Amendment rights.

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