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History will show James Dale lost the Supreme Court decision allowing the Boy Scouts to exclude homosexuals as group leaders. Since the ruling, however, Dale has won a victory of sorts, watching with satisfaction as some Scout leaders, public school districts, United Way chapters and other groups have challenged the policy or reconsidered their ties with the Boy Scouts. “It’s hard to have the highest court in the country say you’re wrong,” Dale said. “But a year later, looking back at this, I have no doubt in my mind: I won and they lost. America is still talking about why sending a message of exclusion to kids is wrong.” Dale acknowledged that many individuals and groups have defended the Boy Scout policy. “But if I had to say there’s a trend, the trend is on my side, on our side, on the side of fairness,” he said. Dale, 30, maintained a low profile in the months leading up to the decision last June 28. Since then, he has kept his day job — associate publisher in New York City of Poz magazine, which serves HIV-infected people. But he speaks regularly at colleges, gay pride festivals, corporate diversity programs and fund-raisers for groups including GenderPAC, which works to loosen gender stereotypes. “James Dale is as seasoned and articulate a spokesman as you will find for a progressive cause,” said Riki Wilchins, executive director of GenderPAC. “His story reaches out to people’s hearts as well as minds.” Others blame Dale for what they see as an attempt to destroy an American institution. Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, told Dale during a recent joint appearance on CNN: “If you want to have gay scouting, homosexual scouting, start your own entity, but don’t force your sexual orientation on the majority of other people.” Dale embraced scouting as a boy in New Jersey. He was a Cub Scout at 8, a Boy Scout at 11, an Eagle Scout at 17. His mom was a den mother, his dad a scouting commissioner. Dale became an assistant scoutmaster at 18. But the Boy Scouts expelled him in 1990 after learning he was co-president of Rutgers University’s gay and lesbian organization. Dale sued under a 1992 New Jersey law protecting the civil rights of gay people. The Boy Scouts won in trial court, but Dale prevailed before the New Jersey Supreme Court, setting the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court showdown. Dale attended arguments in the case with his parents, ignoring anti-gay heckling as he walked across the plaza outside the court. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that forcing the Scouts to accept gay troop leaders would violate the organization’s rights of free expression and free association. Hours after the ruling, Dale predicted that the Boy Scouts would ultimately suffer. That view, he says now, is proving correct. “They were given a right to discriminate. With that comes consequences,” he said. “They aren’t the Boy Scouts of America anymore. They are the Boy Scouts of some Americans.” Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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