SAN DIEGO (AP) — A civil rights group is ending a 12-year-old discrimination lawsuit over San Diego's leasing of city property to the Boy Scouts of America.
"We're not pursuing it any further," David Loy, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, told U-T San Diego on Monday.
A scouting spokesman in San Diego told the newspaper that the group wouldn't comment until it conferred with its lawyers later this week.
The ACLU's move comes as the Scouts must decide whether to modify or retain their longtime ban on homosexual members. The organization's National Council is expected to consider whether to change that prohibition in May.
The 2000 lawsuit challenged the city's decades-long practice of charging the Scouts $1 a year to lease 18 1/2 acres in Balboa Park and Fiesta Island for scouting activities. It argued that the leases violated state and federal constitutional prohibitions on giving special preference to religious groups, and also violated federal and local laws against discrimination.
The suit was filed on behalf of lesbian and agnostic couples who refused to allow their children to use the sites because the Scouts bar homosexuals and have an oath pledging duty to "God and my country."
In 2002, the city reached a new 25-year lease with the Scouts to pay $1 a year along with a $2,500 annual administration fee to use Balboa Park, and to pay to maintain and improve the property, which includes a swimming pool and amphitheater.
The Scouts got the Fiesta Island property rent-free but spent about $2.5 million to build a Youth Aquatic Center that provides low-cost boat rentals.
In 2003, a federal court ruled that the leases were illegal. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review an appeal by the Scouts.
However last December, a federal appeals court reversed the 2003 lower court decision. The appellate panel ruled that the leases were legal and weren't designed to promote religious activities. The court noted that the city leased 123 public properties to various nonprofit groups, including a Korean church, a Jewish organization and other groups that limit membership on the basis of race or ethnicity.
Last Friday, a federal judge in San Diego, directed by the appeals court, entered a court order finding in favor of the Scouts.
The lawsuit originally named the city and the Scouts but the city settled in 2004 by agreeing to abide by whatever court decision ultimately was reached and to pay the ACLU $950,000 for legal costs.