CHICAGO, November 16, 2004 ( – The U.S. Department of Defence agreed Monday to halt direct support for the Boy Scouts, because of an American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois lawsuit.

The ACLU charged that government funding of the Scouts is unconstitutional because members have to swear an oath to God, which they claim is discriminatory to non-religious people. Because the Scouts do not allow openly gay leaders, the ACLU argues that this additionally infringes on the rights of American children.  The lawsuit was inspired by a similar court decision in 1998, when the ACLU successfully acted on behalf of a law student who sued the city of Chicago, arguing that the city’s support of the Boy Scouts was unconstitutional.

The suit affects 422 units out of 120,000 programs, because these chapters were being held on US military bases, according to Irving, Texas-based The Boy Scouts of America spokesman Greg Shields. “We have simply transferred the charters to non-military but supportive organizations like VFWs [veterans of foreign wars],” he said, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.  Read AP coverage:   tv