IRVING — The Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board has delayed a vote on removing the national gay ban.
The decision came early in the third day of the board’s three-day meeting at the DFW Airport Marriott. A possible vote was expected today, but the board has decided to discuss the issue more at its national board meeting in May where 1,400 members will vote on a resolution. That meeting will take place May 22 at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine.
“After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement. “To that end, the National Executive Board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards.”
Cece Cox, CEO of Resource Center Dallas, said she doesn’t believe this is the end of the issue and urged people working with the Scouts to redouble their efforts.
“The Center is disappointed that the Boy Scouts of America and its board of directors are deferring a decision until May on whether or not to repeal a ban that continues to force gay Scouts and LGBT Scout leaders to lie about who they are,” Cox said. “The ban is a relic of discrimination and disinformation; it should be on the ash heap of history. We urge the Boy Scout board to stand for equality and fairness and join the ranks of both corporate American and the American people who value their lesbian and gay employees, friends and neighbors.”
The Human Rights Campaign said the delay meant that more action is needed to sway the BSA toward an inclusive policy. HRC originally supported the proposed policy to allow local troops to decide whether to admit gay Scouts and leaders, but later called for a national nondiscrimination policy to protect gay members and leaders in every troop.
“Every day that the Boy Scouts of America delay action is another day that discrimination prevails,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Now is the time for action. Young Americans, gay and straight, are hurt by the inaction associated with today’s news. The BSA leadership should end this awful policy once and for all, and open the proud tradition of Scouting to all.”
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation also spoke out against the delayed action to end discrimination.
“An organization that serves youth and chooses to intentionally hurt dedicated young people and hardworking parents not only flies in the face of American principles, but the principles of being a Boy Scout,” GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said. “The Boy Scouts of America is choosing to ignore the cries of millions, including religious institutions, current Scouting families, and corporate sponsors, but these cries will not be silenced. We’re living in a culture where hurting young gay people because of who they are is unpopular and discriminatory. They had the chance to end the pain this ban has caused to young people and parents, they chose to extend the pain.”
Jennifer Tyrrell, the Ohio lesbian mom who was removed as den mother from her son’s Cub Scout troop in April, said the BSA has failed again and promised the fight for equality in the organization wasn’t over. Tyrrell was in Irving on Monday to deliver her and three other Change.org petitions to BSA headquarters that have garnered 1.4 million signatures.
“The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they’ve failed us yet again. No parent should have to look their child in the eye and explain that the Boy Scouts don’t want us,” Tyrrell said. “Our fight will continue and we will continue to educate donors and supporters of the Boy Scouts about the effects of their anti-gay policy.”
Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, called the decision “an abdication of responsibility.”
“By postponing this decision, the BSA has caved to those who argue that their anti-gay attitudes trump basic Scouting values of kindness, courtesy and bravery,” Wahls said. ”Scouting was built on a foundation of respect and dignity. Today, the BSA cracked that foundation.”
The American Family Association responded to Wednesday’s news by demanding the resignation of Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and vice president of the Boy Scouts.
AFA said Stephenson would only continue to push to end the no-gays policy, especially since he is scheduled to be the board’s next chairman.
Stephenson said last year that he was committed to changing the policy to include gays. Ernst & Young Chairman and CEO James Turley has also been outspoken on the need to change the policy.
The Family Research Council praised the decision to keep the current policy for a few more months but wanted the Boy Scouts to reaffirm the policy like it did in July after saying a two-year study proved the gay ban was necessary.
“The leaders of the Boy Scouts were wise not to abandon their longstanding national membership standards, as they were reportedly on the brink of doing,” FRC President Tony Perkins said. “However, it is not enough that they postpone a decision. Instead, the BSA board should publicly re-affirm their current standards, as they did just last July. We look forward to continuing to work with scouting parents, leaders of the faith-based organizations that charter over two-thirds of the packs and the troops. We will also continue to communicate with the Scout leadership about the grave consequences that would result if they were to compromise their moral standards in the face of threats from corporate elites and homosexual activists.”