WASHINGTON, June 28 (AP) - James Dale proved resourceful and diligent as he worked his way through the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America. He showed the same qualities when he turned his energies against the organization.

An Eagle Scout expelled for being gay, Dale waged a 10-year fight against the organization's policy that considers homosexuality contrary to the oath requiring scouts to be "morally straight." The fight landed at the U.S. Supreme Court and culminated Wednesday with the high court's 5-4 decision that the Scouts can bar homosexuals from serving as troop leaders--a loss for Dale.

Now 29, Dale lives in New York City and is advertising director for POZ magazine, which addresses the needs of people who are HIV-positive. Friends say he was helped on his legal crusade by a supportive family and a healthy attitude toward the public spotlight.

"He's not gotten a big head and he doesn't enjoy all these (public appearances), but he's a soldier for the cause," said James Anderson, faculty adviser to the Rutgers University gay and lesbian organization, through which he became friends with Dale.

``He's always been very good on his feet, talking from his heart as well as his head,'' Anderson said. ``So that part has been relatively easy to him. He's also managed to maintain his life and his privacy.''

Speaking to reporters in April after the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, Dale said he does not consider himself the leader of a movement.

``The only person I am is me, and I've always been true to myself, and I think that's the most important thing,'' he said.

Dale--who changed his name before the dispute with the scouts--grew up in New Jersey, the younger of two sons of Gerald Dick, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, and his wife Doris. He was a Cub Scout at 8, a Boy Scout at 11, an Eagle Scout at 17. At 18, he became an assistant scoutmaster.

After graduating from a military high school, Dale attended Rutgers University. He accepted his homosexuality the summer between his freshman and sophomore years and joined the campus gay and lesbian organization, becoming co-president after three months.

It was in that capacity that Dale attended a daylong conference in 1990 on the struggles of lesbian and gay adolescents. A story on the conference in the July 8, 1990, Newark Star-Ledger quoted Dale describing his difficult path toward accepting his homosexuality.

The article drew the attention of officials at the Monmouth Council of the Boy Scouts, which 16 months earlier had made Dale an assistant scoutmaster of Troop 73 in Matawan, N.J.

The council revoked Dale's registration, citing ``the standards for leadership established by the Boy Scouts of America, which specifically forbid membership to homosexuals.''

Dale sued the scouts under a 1992 New Jersey law protecting the civil rights of gay people.

He lost round one in 1995, but last year the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Dale's favor. The court called the Boy Scouts a public accommodation to which anti-discrimination laws apply.

In public comments over the years, Dale has spoken highly of his scouting experience. He even said he looks forward to rejoining the national organization if its ban on homosexuality is dropped.

``When I first learned the definition of morally straight, when I was 11 years old and in the Boy Scouts, it said to respect and defend the rights of all people, to be honest and open in your relationships with other people,'' he told reporters after the Supreme Court heard his case. ``That's what being morally straight is all about: standing up for yourself and being honest.''

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