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Former gay scout "broke down and cried" when he was dismissed

By Sarah Hoye, CNN
  • Local scout chapter fighting city ordinance against discrimination
  • Scouts policy against gay men led to loss of chapter's $1-per-year office lease
  • Greg Lattera dismissed from scouts after appearing on TV following meeting on policy
  • Lattera says scouts "gave me the core values as to who I am" despite dismissal

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- A gay man expelled from the Boy Scouts in 2003 said Monday he misses being a scout but has no regrets.

"There is no bitterness in my heart against these people," Greg Lattera said in an interview following his court appearance. "They are still an organization that gave me the core values as to who I am."

Lattera testified Monday at the federal court case filed by the Boy Scouts of America attempting to keep the $1-a-year lease for their downtown Philadelphia offices. The local chapter, Cradle of Liberty Council, was told by the city to pay $200,000 a year to lease the building or vacate the headquarters that have been located on city land since 1928.

The national scout policy that prohibits the hiring of gay men puts the local chapter in violation of the city charter and an ordinance outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and other grounds.

The lawsuit contends the city's ultimatum violates their First Amendment rights and that the city's position is unconstitutional and violates the organization's right to free speech and equal protection.

Lattera was 18 when he attended a local meeting about gays and the scouting policy. The meeting was open to the press, he said.

"Here Iım thinking this is a meeting about the policy and how I feel about it," he said. "I'm in my uniform and next thing I knew was that I was on TV."

Two weeks later, on June 6, 2003, he received a letter ordering him to sever all ties with the scouts because they "received information" that led to his dismissal.

"I broke down and cried," said Lattera, now 25, adding the scouts opened his eyes to the world around him and taught him life skills. "It was like a part of me was taken away."

In court, Lattera answered questions about the 2003 meeting and the letter.

At the time of his dismissal, Lattera was a camp counselor and held the rank of Life Scout, which is one step below the organizationıs highest rank of Eagle Scout. He joined the scouts at age 10.

Lattera, who declined to name his scout troop or reveal where he resides, said scouting is about more than a building.

"No matter what they say or do, itıs not my choice," he said. "³Scouting isnıt the building. The troops will still be there in the morning. People make the scouts."

Closing arguments are expected Tuesday.