NGLTF Hails New Jersey Decision Striking Boy Scout Ban on Gays

August 04, 1999

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications

"To recognize the Boy Scouts' First Amendment claim would be tantamount to tolerating the expulsion of an individual solely because of his status as a homosexual - an act of discrimination unprotected by the First Amendment freedom of speech."
—New Jersey Supreme Court

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today hailed the New Jersey Supreme Court's unanimous decision that the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay and bisexual men is illegal under New Jersey's anti-discrimination law.

The court sided with James Dale, an assistant scoutmaster who earned 30 merit badges but was expelled from the organization in 1990. The court said the Boy Scouts organization constitutes a "place of public accommodation" because it has a broad-based membership and forms partnerships with public entities and public service organizations. Thus, the court said, the Boy Scouts fall under New Jersey's anti-discrimination law and cannot deny any person "accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges" because of their sexual orientation.

NGLTF Executive Director Kerry Lobel praised Dale and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which has worked tirelessly to defend gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people against discrimination.

"Another domino in the campaign against GLBT people has fallen," Lobel said. "Discrimination is a harmful and serious moral wrong. Today the New Jersey Supreme Court said it will not allow intolerance in public accommodations. The decision shows the importance of work on the state level to pass civil rights laws."

Lobel explained that New Jersey is one of 11 states plus the District of Columbia with civil rights laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The other states, in order of passage, are Wisconsin (1982); Massachusetts (1989); Connecticut and Hawaii (1991); California and Vermont (1992); Minnesota (1993); Rhode Island (1995); New Hampshire (1997); and Nevada (1999). New Jersey passed its anti-discrimination law in 1992.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movementís premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.