HRC Decries House Passage Of The Anti-Gay Hilleary Amendment

On May 23rd, The Human Rights Campaign derided House passage of an

anti-gay amendment sponsored by Rep. Van Hilleary, R-Tenn. This amendment,

which was approved by a voice vote, purports to prohibit federal funding to

schools that deny access of public school facilities to the Boy Scouts,

despite the fact that the scouts have never lost their ability to meet in

school facilities.

“This was an empty, mean-spirited gesture that accomplished nothing

because the law already dictates that the Boy Scouts have equal access to

school facilities,” said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. “The

battleground now shifts to the Senate, where we will work to defeat the

Helms amendment.”

HRC will continue to fight the amendment sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms,

R-N.C., and rally support against the measure. The organization has sent out

an action alert to its members, asking them to urge their Senators to oppose

this amendment. Additionally, a letter signed by several key organizations

that opposed both measures was sent to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Groups that signed on to the letter are: the Association of School

Administrators, American Association of University Women, American

Psychological Association, Americans for Democratic Action, Anti-Defamation

League, Council of the Great City Schools, Leadership Conference on Civil

Rights, Myra Sadker Advocates, the National Association of School

Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National

Council of Jewish Women, National Education Association, National Federation

of Filipino American Associations, National PTA, National Rural Education

Association, National School Boards Association, National Women’s Law

Center, New York State Education Department, NOW Legal Defense and Education

Fund, People For the American Way, Unitarian Universalist Association of

Congregations, and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness

Ministries.

To gain support for his amendment, Hilleary sent out a letter that

mistakenly said the Boy Scouts were routinely denied access to schools. To

clear up this campaign of misinformation, a “Dear Colleague” letter was sent

by Reps. Bill Delahunt, D-Mass., and Connie Morella, R-Md.

“The Hilleary Dear Colleague might lead you to believe that such

exclusion is lawful and commonplace and it is not,” said the letter sent by

Morella and Delahunt. “A selective denial of equal access is unlawful. And

no school district has ever successfully barred the Boy Scouts from using

school facilities that are open to all.”

Helms said on the Senate floor last week that “radical militants” were

trying to ban the Boy Scouts from campuses. He also said they [gay

activists] “demand that everybody else’s principles must be cast aside in

order to protect the right of homosexual conduct.”

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