New Jersey Supreme Court Unanimously Strikes Down Anti-Gay Scout Ban

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Lambda and plaintiff James Dale speak at news conference, Wednesday, August 4, 12:30 pm; teleconference to follow at 3:00 pm
August 4, 1999

(NEW YORK, August 4, 1999) — Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, with its client, former Eagle Scout James Dale, will hold a news conference Wednesday at its New York headquarters to discuss the stunning victory in its case challenging the anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America. A phone-in tele-conference will follow.

Lambda is lead counsel to Dale, the exemplary Eagle Scout ousted from his New Jersey Troop solely because he is gay. With its unanimous decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court is the first top state court to strike down BSA’s ban on gay members.

Said Lambda Senior Attorney Evan Wolfson, who argued the case on Dale’s behalf, “Today the highly respected New Jersey Supreme Court handed down a win-win ruling: a victory for an outstanding Eagle Scout who was thrown out because he is gay, a victory for gay youth who should be included, not excluded, from scouting, as well as a victory for all members of scouting, who join because they value honesty, community service, self-reliance, and respect for others -- not discrimination.”

Dale, now 29, was in scouting for over 12 years, earned over 30 merit badges, and rose to the rank of Eagle Scout before being kicked out of the organization in July 1990. A local troop was forced to disband when Dale was stripped of his position as an assistant scoutmaster.

In March 1998, Lambda won a victory before the intermediate appellate court, which ruled that Dale’s expulsion was in violation of New Jersey civil rights law. Rejecting “stereotypical notions” about the abilities of gay youth and adults to participate in Scouting, the court also rejected arguments that the group had a first amendment right to discriminate.


WHO: Lambda plaintiff James Dale, Senior Staff Attorney Evan Wolfson, and Legal Director Beatrice Dohrn WHERE: Lambda National Headquarters, 120 Wall Street (corner of South Street), Manhattan, Suite 1500 WHEN: Wednesday, August 4, 12:30 p.m.

TELE-CONFERENCE WHO: Lambda plaintiff James Dale and Senior Staff Attorney Evan Wolfson WHEN: Wednesday, August 4, 3:00 p.m. HOW: Call 913-661-0962, after the prompt, enter pass code 7825; please R.S.V.P to Lambda if you are interested in participating in this call

(James Dale v. Boy Scouts of America, No. 45761)


Contact: Peg Byron 212-809-8585 x 230, 888-987-1984 (pager); Evan Wolfson 212-809-8585 x 205


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