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First Amendment Library:
George Davidson


Eagle Scout James Dale became an assistant scoutmaster in 1989. While attending Rutgers University, Dale revealed his sexual orientation during a speech in his capacity as co-president of the university’s Lesbian/Gay Alliance group. In July 1990, scouting authorities sent Dale a letter, severing all ties with him. When Dale wrote to inquire about the reason, they said the grounds for revoking the membership “are the standards for leadership established by the Boy Scouts of America, which specifically forbid membership to homosexuals.” Dale sued in state court, saying the Boy Scouts violated a state law that prevents places of public accommodation from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. After a trial court judge ruled in favor of the Scouts in 1995, both the Superior Court of New Jersey and the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled in favor of Dale. The Boy Scouts appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.