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Washington, D.C. – Under today’s legal standards, the nation’s founding fathers would be banned, for fear of lawsuits, from using public facilities to write and sign the documents that are the bedrock of our country, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. said today.

“That’s what is happening to the Boy Scouts,” Enzi said.

Enzi, an Eagle Scout, cosponsored an amendment offered by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., that Enzi said would prevent discrimination against the Boy Scouts of America.

The Senate passed the amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill that would ensure that federal agencies could provide the same amount of support for the Boy Scouts and other youth organizations as the agencies have in the past. The vote was 98-0.

“The Frist Amendment would assure that our free speech protections would also apply to the Boy Scouts. They are being discriminated against,” said Enzi. “This amendment would ensure the Department of Defense can continue to support the Boy Scouts without fear of frivolous lawsuits.”

As part of a 1999 lawsuit filed by the ACLU, a U.S. District Judge in Chicago, Illinois ruled earlier this month that the Pentagon could no longer spend money to ready a Virginia military base for the national Boy Scout Jamboree. The ACLU claims Department of Defense help is unconstitutional because the Boy Scouts believe in a duty to God.

“Scouts do not endorse or require a single belief or any particular faith’s God. The fact they ask a belief in and a relationship with a supreme being who created the universe should not mean they are banned from using public sites,” said Enzi, who attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Valley Forge in 1957.

He related another example of discrimination when the National Zoo in Washington denied a request by the Boy Scouts to hold their Eagle Scout Court of Honor there because the legal staff at the Smithsonian determined the Boy Scouts’ encouragement of a spiritual life for its members could lead to lawsuits. “It’s not just military facilities; it is federal facilities,” said Enzi. “I visited the National Archives and read the original document signed by our Founding Fathers. It is a good thing they hadn’t asked permission to sign the Declaration of Independence at the National Zoo.”

The Senate is debating the Department of Defense Authorization bill this week and Enzi is hopeful the House will also include language to protect the Boy Scouts in its version of the legislation.

Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo. is also a cosponsor of the Frist Boy Scout amendment.

In 2001 Enzi worked with former Senator Jessie Helms, R-N.C., to successfully enact legislation that would require that Boy Scouts are treated the same as other organizations when seeking to hold meetings on public school property.