Scouts Sue Conn. Over Payroll Snub
ROCKY HILL, Conn. (AP) _ The Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday urged the state to continue allowing government workers to contribute to scouting through payroll deductions.
``There are hundreds of charities that cater to a specialized group,″ said attorney Daniel Schwartz, citing organizations for homosexuals, minorities and the elderly. ``We’re not suggesting they’re doing anything wrong. All we’re asking is that the Boy Scouts have the right to do the same thing.″
The arguments before the Connecticut State Employee Campaign Committee came a day after the Irving, Texas-based Scouts and one Connecticut scouting council filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the state, saying they were removed from a list of charities eligible for state payroll deductions because its bars homosexuals.
The state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities unanimously ruled last month the Boy Scouts cannot be included in the payroll deduction program because including a group with such a policy violated state anti-discrimination laws.
The Boy Scouts’ lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport Monday, asks Judge Warren Eginton to order the state to return the organization to the list.
The campaign committee has 20 days to rule. Separately, Eginton is expected to conduct a hearing on the lawsuit Monday.
The state hires the United Way to collect the employee deductions. But Connecticut has the right to prevent it from giving the Boy Scouts any employee paycheck contributions not designated for a particular agency.
The Boy Scouts’ lawsuit argues that the state’s employee charitable campaign list ``includes numerous organizations which limit or preferentially offer services on the basis of age like Services for the Elderly of Farmington, ethnicity like the National Black Child Development Institute and religious groups like Catholics for a Free Choice.″ It names the employees’ campaign committee and state Comptroller Nancy Wyman as defendants.
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about whether to let the Boy Scouts bar homosexuals from serving as troop leaders, role models in an organization that teaches its members to be ``morally straight.″
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who represents state employees, said he was seeking a temporary resolution while the Supreme Court case is pending. One solution might be to place the scouting money in a separate account until the high court rules.