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Why the Boy Scouts’ New Leader Can’t Stop Changes to the Anti-Gay Policy

Why the Boy Scouts’ New Leader Can’t Stop Changes to the Anti-Gay Policy

Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates has announced that while he does not support the BSA’s ban on openly gay scout leaders, he will actively oppose changing the policy so as to guard against further divisions within the organization — but this is a goal he cannot reach.

Gates, who has now formally taken over the role as the head of the BSA, made these comments in a prepared speech to the BSA’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Gates of course previously worked as the Secretary of Defense for the Obama administration and during that time supported in strong terms the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay service personnel known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. As a result, commentators including myself have noted that his tenure as BSA president could provide an opportunity to repeal the remnants of the BSA’s ban on gay members which survives today as a ban on openly gay scoutmasters.

However, despite saying that when the vote was taken last year he would have supported ending the ban in its entirety, Gates announced that he feels that the issue should be left alone for the time being:

A year ago, this meeting saw a respectful and civil debate over membership policy. In a democratic process, a strong majority of the volunteer leadership of this movement from all across the nation voted to welcome gay youth into scouting. In all candor, I would have supported going further, as I did in opening the way for gays to serve in CIA and in the military.

[...]

Given the strong feelings — the passion — involved on both sides of this matter, I believe strongly that to re-open the membership issue or try to take last year’s decision to the next step would irreparably fracture or perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement — with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own. That is just a fact of life, and who would pay the price for destroying the Boy Scouts of America? Millions of scouts today and scouts yet unborn. We must always put the kids and their interests first. Thus, during my time as president, I will oppose any effort to re-open this issue.

With these words, Gates appears to be reassuring the more conservative members of the BSA, but there is cause to think that the problem is now firmly outside of Gates’ or the wider BSA’s control.

Earlier this month we reported on a young adult gay scout member who had been tipped for a repeat of the leadership role he had undertaken in previous years and done well. After he was unintentionally outed by a friend on Facebook, the BSA then said he was unsuited for a leadership role. This speaks to the generational problem the BSA is now faced with: it will have a number of openly gay scouts wanting to work up through the ranks to become leaders, and yet the BSA will refuse them that opportunity simply because it continues to hold to its anti-gay history.

Another facet of the argument that is important here is whether the BSA really can afford to keep being anti-gay. For instance, there is pressure being put on retail giant Amazon to drop sponsorship of the BSA from its charitable and youth leadership sponsorship programs until the BSA begins allowing gay scout leaders. There’s no indication yet that Amazon will make that change, but the threat alone should give the BSA pause. Add to this that there are troops that are readily defying the ban on openly gay scout leaders and one must say Gates is being incredibly naive if he thinks the problem will now just go away.

We might not wholly count Gates out as a reformer though, because while he may oppose bringing the issue up during his presidency, he has made it clear that he supports openly gay scout leaders. That in itself sets a precedent for future action, and whether he wants it or not, the issue doesn’t stop now he’s said he won’t take the lead. If anything, he’s just reignited the fire and LGBT groups will continue to push — and hard.

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Photo credit: The U.S. Military Academy

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4:48PM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

"Thus, during my time as president, I will oppose any effort to re-open this issue."
He has already stated he will not support change so I do not see any further headway being made on this issue. He is odd, to say the least.

8:03AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

Thanks for posting

7:50AM PDT on Jun 5, 2014

Lynn-NO, if the lgbt community wants role models, create your own, the scouts were founded on biblical principles and should not have to change to accept people who don't want to accept their principles, but want them to change their standards to fit with them

Original Message:
-----------------
Hello,

Lynn left a comment on the following article:
Why the Boy Scouts' New Leader Can't Stop Changes to the Anti-Gay Policy
LGBT youth need role models, LGBT role models. Being LGBT does not mean adopting a lifestyle or behaviour. Being LGBT means being who created you to be. The BSA is still in the dark ages and needs to open the closet door!

12:25PM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

"he will actively oppose changing the policy so as to guard against further divisions within the organization —"

++++++ THAT makes no sense at all!

11:57PM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

LGBT youth need role models, LGBT role models. Being LGBT does not mean adopting a lifestyle or behaviour. Being LGBT means being who created you to be. The BSA is still in the dark ages and needs to open the closet door!

1:57AM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

ty

3:09PM PDT on Jun 2, 2014

This poor, unfortunate man is trying to do an IMPOSSIBLE thing. Find within yourself a feeling of PITY for him!
Many of the BSA troops are sponsored by CHURCHES - including the Roman Catholic Church. And bigoted Evangelical Churches. Altho the BSA started out as a "Christian" thing, I believe there are now many troops sponsored by Jewish groups and other religions, sponsored by Synagogues, Mosques, Temples, and others.
Many of these, by their policies, including the Roman Catholics, have ANTI-GAY POLICIES written into their Church programs and Theologies!
Of course, we know that ALL Religious groups now, are DEEPLY DIVIDED over the issue - down to individual Congregations within Religious groups, and families and individuals within Congregations...
HALF the BSA Church supporters threaten to LEAVE if the BSA accepts Gay members! and HALF want to leave if the BSA DOESN'T accept Gays....
Poor Mr. Gates, he's just trying to SMOOTH THINGS OVER and "let's for the moment IGNORE the Controversy, shall we?" He is trying desperately to keep the membership together, somehow, anyhow.....
Pope Francis is in EXACTLY THE SAME SITUATION. There are the very Conservative
Catholics, and the very Liberal ones {the Majority, in the US and Western Europe}. But the Pope is desperately trying to hold onto them BOTH. A thing that is IMPOSSIBLE - and can't last. But, both of them are TRYING.....
BOTH stand to lose a great part of their membership, if they plunk down on one side or on the othe

8:38PM PDT on Jun 1, 2014

thanks

7:53PM PDT on May 31, 2014

Let's get real!
Homophobes are people who are afraid of their own sexual orientation.

2:51PM PDT on May 31, 2014

Noted

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