PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Boy Scouts of America can recoup nearly $900,000 in legal fees for beating a city’s eviction attempt because of the group’s ban on gay members, a federal judge ruled.
The organization has been using a building at 22nd and Winter streets in Philadelphia as its regional headquarters since 1929. Though Philadelphia owns the building, it never demanded rent until 2003, when it said the group would have to start paying unless it stopped discriminating against openly homosexual men.
A Boy Scouts position statement on homosexuality states that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirements in the Scout oath that a Scout be morally straight” and that “homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”
The city claimed that this policy violates its anti-discrimination laws.
When negotiations proved futile in 2007, Philadelphia passed approved the group’s eviction. The city said the Boy Scouts could stay in the building with a more inclusive policy; leave; or keep the policy and pay $200,000 a year in rent.
The group opted to sue instead, ultimately convincing a jury that the city’s actions violated the First Amendment.
Philadelphia moved to overturn the verdict or face a new trial, but U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter refused last week and ordered it to cover the group’s legal fees.
The group’s motion for fees said that their lawyers with Drinker Biddle had asked for more than $1 million, but Buckwalter reduced that figure to $877,122.07.