Expelled gay Scout testifies at federal trial

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Philadelphia has ordered the Boy Scouts to vacate, or pay $200,000 a year in rent, unless the local Cradle of Liberty Council renounces the national Scout policy banning homosexuals. (AP Photo / Matt Rourke)

A gay man who was a top Scout until he was kicked out in 2003 says he still considers the organization a great resource for children, but wishes it would change its policy on sexual orientation.

Greg Lattera, now 25, had just turned 18 when he was invited to a meeting in Philadelphia about gays in Scouting. He wore his uniform to the session, which was open to the media.

Two weeks later he received a letter ejecting him from the organization.

Lattera testified today in a federal court case brought by the Scouts attempting to keep a $1-a-year lease on their Center City offices. Philadelphia has ordered the organization to vacate, or pay $200,000 a year in rent, unless the local Cradle of Liberty Council renounces the national Scout policy banning homosexuals.

Final arguments in the U.S. District Court case may come Tuesday. The Cradle council represents Scouts in Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Delaware counties, and has about 87,000 members. It received the lease in 1928 and built the structure now on the site.

In an interview after his testimony, Lattera said he "would still encourage others to do what I couldn't do," and become a Scout. "There is still good in the organization."

Lattera, who grew up in South Philadelphia, said that his years in Scouting "took me outside that world."

Lattera declined to name his Scout troop, or say where he now lives.

He was a Life Scout, one step below an Eagle Scout, and had twice been named "staffer of the year" at a Scout camp in Montgomery County when he was banned in June, 2003.

The ejection letter did not specifically cite his sexual orientation. "The letter said they 'received information'" that led to the ban. "That was all I was told to this day."

Lattera said he appealed his expulsion, but never received a reply from the national organization. "To this day I am waiting for my appeal to be heard."

In a decision 10 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts can bar homosexuals.

The decision came in the case of an assistant scout leader in New Jersey who had been expelled for being gay.

 


Contact staff writer Nathan Gorenstein at 215-854-2797 or ngorenstein@phillynews.com.