A federal jury ruled Wednesday that the city of Philadelphia cannot evict a local Boy Scouts chapter from a city building for refusing to admit gay members, the AP reported.

The Philadelphia chapter of the Boy Scouts, known as the Cradle of Liberty Council, cannot be put out of its stately Beaux Arts headwaters building.  To do so would violate the scout's First Amendment rights, the jury said in its unanimous decision.

The city, which owns the building, decided to terminate the scout's nearly-free lease in 2007, insisting that nonprofits must abide by local anti-discrimination laws, including an ordinance that protects based on sexual orientation.

During the eight-day trial, the local chapter insisted they are obliged to follow a national policy that excludes gays from membership. In 2000, the Supreme Court agreed that the Boy Scouts, as a private group, can set up their own rules.

In Philadelphia, the Cradle of Liberty Council attempted to appease both the city and the Texas-based Boy Scouts of America by fashioning a statement saying it objected to discrimination but did not specifically repudiate the gay ban.

The city, however, said the statement was too vague and decided to end the sweetheart deal cut in 1928, asking the group to pay $200,000 annual rent or face eviction.

After the verdict, U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter decided against immediately awarding the scouts an injunction that would ban the city from evicting the group or increasing their rent, saying he hoped the two “honorable institutions” could work something out.

“From now on, the Boy Scouts will be negotiating from a position of strength,” Jason Gosselin, a lawyer representing the scouts, told reporters. “The city can't come in and impose its views on what the scouts ought to do.”

In a statement released Wednesday, the city said it was “steadfast in its commitment to prevent its facilities from being used to disadvantage certain groups.” It said it was reviewing its legal options.