Boy Scouts voting today on gay scout leader ban

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Zach Wahls

The Boy Scouts of America will vote today on a policy to repeal its current ban on having openly gay scout leader. Results will be released tonight.

The new policy was approved unanimously earlier this year by its executive committee, headed by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who implemented the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  The new policy would allow local units to select their own leaders, so church-sponsored groups could continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians in leadership roles. A year ago, a similar policy change allowed gay scouts to remain active until their 18th birthdays.

Zach Wahls, a straight Eagle Scout with two moms who founded Scouts for Equality, said it would be unprecedented for a recommendation by the national executive committee to be turned down.

Still, he called this vote only a partial victory if it passes tonight.

“Any discrimination sends a harmful message to kids,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Rick Perry: Boy Scouts would ‘be better off’ without gay Scoutmasters

Perry.Rick_Jesus Christ, give this guy a closet already.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said yesterday (Sunday, July 19) the Boy Scouts would be “better off” without openly gay or bisexual Scoutmasters.

The Republican, who is now making his second presidential bid, made the remarks on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday (Sunday, July 19).

The Irving-based Boy Scouts of America, now lead by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, recently repealed the organization’s ban on openly gay or bisexual leadership.

“You wrote this in a book in 2008. And it was about scouting. And you said this: ‘Openly active gays, particular advocates, present a problem. Because gay activism is central to their lives. It would unavoidably be a topic of conversation within a scout troop. This would distract from the mission of scouting, character building, not sex education.’ Do you still stand by that statement?,” host Chuck Todd asked.

“I do,” he replied. “I believe that scouting would be better off, if they didn’t have openly gay scoutmasters.”

Fellow Republican candidate and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently made a similar comment before backtracking on CNN.

In 2013, the organization lifted its ban on allowing openly gay or bisexual scouts.

The interview can be found below:

—  James Russell

BREAKING: Boy Scouts one step closer to lifting ban on gay leaders

890px-Boy_Scouts_of_America_corporate_trademark.svgA spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America said today (Monday, July 13), said that the organization’s executive committee voted last Friday, July 10, to end the ban on gay leaders in scouting. The next step is a vote by the entire executive board to ratify the resolution, which is scheduled for July 27. If the executive board approves the move, the change will become effective immediately.

The change will not require councils or troops to allow openly gay leaders. It will simply lift the ban that has prohibited openly gay leaders. In the resolution, the Boy Scouts national organization specifically states that it will “defend and indemnify to the fullest extent allowed by law” any chartered group that is a religious group and is challenged in court for making a “good faith refusal to select a unit leader based upon the religious principles of the chartered organization.”

Today’s vote came after BSA President Robert Gates in May urged that the change be made. The executive committee vote was unanimous.

 

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Gates tells Boy Scouts to change policy

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Boy Scouts President Robert Gates

Robert Gates, president of the Irving-based Boy Scouts of America, has called on the organization to change its policy on gay scout leaders.

“I remind you of the recent debates we have seen in places like Indiana and Arkansas over discrimination based on sexual orientation, not to mention the impending U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer on gay marriage,” he said.

He said he wasn’t asking the board to make any changes at this meeting, but said he was speaking to them as bluntly as he did when he headed the CIA and Defense Department.

“We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” he said.

Gates said more councils will contest the gay ban and the BSA could revoke their memberships. As states implement nondiscrimination policies, he said, the Boy Scouts could simply be ordered to change its employment policies.

“We must all understand that this probably will happen sooner rather than later,” he said.

Gates said it was better to act sooner and create policies that would allow church-chartered troops to set standards consistent with their religious beliefs and allow others to follow their beliefs.

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox released the following statement:

“The Center supports President Gates’ call for the Boy Scouts of America to end the ban that has forced LGBT Scout leaders to lie about who they are. It is a common-sense reflection of where the nation is on LGBT issues and involvement in everyday life.

“We urge Scouting leadership to take formal action and repeal the ban. Qualified LGBT Scout leaders should be able to participate in and contribute to an iconic American institution where honesty and trustworthiness are bedrock principles, without a dated and arcane policy standing in the way.

“The announcement from President Gates is yet another step toward comprehensive change that the Center first called for in February 2013. We would like to see the Scouts ensure open participation in all its activities by adopting a comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination policy. The Center is hopeful that Scouting will make this positive change.”

—  David Taffet

California judges banned from participating in Boy Scouting

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Zach Wahls

This week the California Supreme Court barred the state’s judges from participating in youth groups that discriminate against LGBT people.

The change to the ethics rules prevents judges in California from participating in the Boy Scouts of America, which is based in Irving. BSA changed its policy on gay scouts under the age of 18, but it retains its discriminatory policy on scout leaders.

That standard will be part of this year’s Corporate Equality Index that is prepared by the Human Rights Campaign.

“The Boy Scouts of America’s practice of discrimination in banning LGBT leaders is not just wrong but totally incompatible with professional values of equality, fairness and equal opportunity,” said Deena Fidas, director of HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program, and co-author of the foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index, in a statement on HRC’s website.

A number of demonstrations in front of Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving were, in part, responsible for the change in policy for scouts. Pressure mounted when Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two moms who founded Scouts for Equality, got several major corporate donors to drop their support of the organization, because funding a group that discriminates violated their own corporate policies.

The CEI’s new policy may encourage additional companies with otherwise perfect scores to stop funding the Boy Scouts.

—  David Taffet

Boy Scouts nondiscrimination policy is in print

ScoutsDallas Voice publisher Leo Cusimano, an Eagle Scout, enrolled his younger son in the Cub Scouts this week, but not before reading the application.

On the page headed Boy Scouts of America Information for Parents, he found the Policy of Nondiscrimination:

Youth membership in the BSA is open to all boys and young adults who meet the joining requirements. Membership in Scouting advancement and achievement of leadership in Scouting units are open to all youth without regard to race, ethnic background, or sexual orientation, and are based on individual merit.

But Cusimano wanted to double check and make sure the Den Father understood his son has two fathers.

“Yeah, this is Kessler Park,” he said. “No problem.”

—  David Taffet

Boy Scouts will lead NYC Pride march

BSAIrving-based Boy Scouts of America have been sentinels standing fast against the gay scourge since at least 1978, when the official policy of the group began prohibiting gay scouts and parents from participating in the program. Despite a few gestures of tolerance in recent months, the BSA is not exactly an all-inclusive organization. That said, the 104-year-old Greater New York Councils of the BSA has an express policy never to exclude anyone from its members troops for reasons of sexual orientation. “We strongly believe that both gay adults and youth must be welcomed in Scouting,” the councils assert.

Still, it’s a pretty significant thing that New York City’s upcoming Pride march will be led by active and former members of the Boy Scouts, GLAAD announced. They will lead the 14,000 participants down Fifth Avenue in support of gay rights.

Of course, while that might not be the official policy set forth from Texas HQ, the BSA’s new president, Robert Gates, has said the national group would support local councils’ decisions on gay leadership.

The march takes place on Sunday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas church kicks out Boy Scout troop for gay admission policy

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Don Huffines

Incoming Texas state Sen. Don Huffines isn’t happy with Northwest Bible Church kicking out the Boy Scout troop he led until October. But he’s not at all happy with the policy adopted last year to allow the inclusion of gay Scouts up to the age of 18.

The church made no public statement but indicated the new policy allowing gay Scouts goes against their principles. The church is located on Douglas Avenue at Northwest Highway.

Huffines resigned from his leadership position with the troop in October 2013 to challenge state Sen. John Carona in the March primary. Huffines won the primary and has no challenger in November. His district includes parts of Oak Lawn.

According to Preston Hollow People, Huffines said, “I think it was a big mistake what BSA did. They said they were not going to change the policy, and then eight months later they came back and changed it. The national leadership of the BSA cannot be trusted. They can’t be trusted not to open the door for more infiltration from the gay agenda. Eventually we’ll have gay scouts and gay scoutmasters and gay troops. They’ll keep coming until their mission is fulfilled.”

Robert Gates, former defense secretary under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, is the newly appointed president of the Boy Scouts and the national leadership that Huffines can’t trust.

The troop is part of Circle Ten Council, which includes Dallas and 11 other North Texas counties. Circle Ten CEO Pat Currie said his council has 54,000 Scouts and is not aware of any who have declared their homosexuality.

“It’s not about if you’re gay or straight. It’s about who you are as a person,” Currie said. “I haven’t found a church yet who said they would remove someone from the church just because they said they were gay.”

Despite Currie’s assurances that no church would throw out a gay kid, the odds are next to zero that out of 54,000 Scouts, not one has come out. Either Currie is oblivious or his organization remains a completely unsafe place for gay kids to be honest about who they are.

—  David Taffet

Disney ends funding to Boy Scouts over gay policy

Unknown-1LOS ANGELES  — The Walt Disney Company will cut funding to the Boy Scouts of America beginning in 2015 because of a policy that bans gay adult leaders in the organization, The Associated Press reported.

The Boy Scouts organization is “disappointed” by the decision, which will affect the organization’s ability to serve children, Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said in a statement Sunday. Disney does not provide direct funding to the Boy Scouts, but it donates money to some troops in exchange for volunteer hours completed by Disney employees, he said.

“We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids,” he said.

David Jefferson, chief spokesman for The Walt Disney Company, did not respond to calls or emails.

Disney’s decision came to light after the president of a local Boy Scout council based in Orlando, Fla., where Disney World is based, sent a memo alerting local troops to the decision.

The memo was posted on the website of Scouts for Equality, an organization that is critical of the Boy Scouts’ policy to ban adult gay troop leaders.

The Boy Scouts lifted a ban on gay youth last year.

—  Steve Ramos

Judge rules Kentucky ban on recognizing marriages performed elsewhere unconstitutional

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Greg Bourke, left, with his son at a protest last February at Boy Scout headquarters in Irving (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Kentucky’s ban on recognizing marriages performed out of state was struck down Wednesday by a federal judge. He ruled it violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“It is clear that Kentucky’s laws treat gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them,” U.S. District Judge John Heyborn wrote.

The Family Foundation of Kentucky argued recognizing same-sex marriage would undermine procreation as the fundamental role of marriage. Heyburn wrote that opposite-sex couples are not required to procreate to get married.

He also wrote no evidence was presented that “recognizing same-sex marriage will harm opposite-sex marriage.”

The suit was brought by Greg Bourke and Michael Deleon of Louisville and three other couples. Bourke was a Boy Scout troup leader for his and Deleon’s son. He spoke at a protest rally at Boy Scout headquarters in Irving last February before the ban on gay Scouts was lifted. The ban on gay Scout leaders remains in place.

Bourke and Deleon were married in Canada in 2004.

—  David Taffet