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SAN DIEGO-The San Diego City Council is considering today a 50-year lease extension request from the Boy Scouts of America for its camp at Balboa Park. More precisely, it will be considering whether extending the lease is tantamount to publicly sanctioned discrimination.

For nearly a half century, the Boy Scouts have leased the property at $1 a year. The current lease doesn’t expire until 2007, but the organization wants to lock in the 50-year extension now.

The council, in turn, wants to protect its own future, and there is concern among its members that extending the lease might constitute publicly sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians, violating the so-called separation of church and state.

Courts have upheld the Scouts’ right to exclude certain people over the continued protests of civil libertarians and activist groups. The American Civil Liberties Union and various gay and lesbian groups have long opposed the Boy Scouts’ official policy requiring a commitment to God and excluding gay people from its ranks.

Today, the City Council is considering whether to grant a 50-year lease extension to the Scouts for the 15-acre Camp Balboa. Under the proposed extension, the Scouts would be required to complete $1.7 million in upgrades to the property.

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