City officials voted to stop giving free dock space to the local Sea Scouts sailing program because of the Boy Scouts of America's policy banning gays and atheists.
"If we continue to give them the berths rent-free, it means the government is sanctioning discrimination," Berkeley Councilman Kriss Worthington said Tuesday night. "We're not kicking the Scouts out of Berkeley or off the marina. They should just pay for their berths like everyone else."The council voted 8-1 to make the Sea Scouts foot the $12,000 annual bill themselves if they want to continue docking their boats at the Berkeley Marina.
About 60 Sea Scouts, parents and scout leaders packed the council chambers, loudly voicing their disapproval and forcing Mayor Shirley Dean to pound her gavel several times to bring order to the meeting.
"I think it's really messed up," 16-year-old Jake Brill said. "I respect anyone's belief as long as they have respect for mine."
The crews of the two Sea Scout boats now docked at the marina argued that raising enough money to pay the dock fees would be nearly impossible. Their major fund-raiser each year is a sponge-toss booth at an annual street fair.
"If it was a few hundred dollars, no problem, we'd just dig into our pockets and come up with the money," said parent volunteer John Sargent. "We don't get any money from the Boy Scouts of America. The free berths makes it possible to have a program that only charges the kids $7 a year."