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COURT SAYS BOY SCOUTS CAN BAN GAYS, ATHEISTS

The Boy Scouts are not a business covered by California's anti-discrimination laws and can exclude homosexuals and boys who don't believe in God, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday.

One ruling could allow the Scouts to expel 16-year-old twin brothers. They were barred by a Cub Scout den at age 9 because they refused to profess a belief in God, were admitted by court order and recently qualified to become Eagle Scouts. A second ruling upheld the Scouts' rejection of an 18-year-old Eagle Scout's application to become a Scout leader after he disclosed his homosexuality in a newspaper interview.

The opinion by Chief Justice Ronald George stressed that the court was not judging the wisdom of the Scouts' policies and carefully avoided the question of whether the Scouts, if covered by civil rights laws, would have the constitutional right to exclude gays and atheists.

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