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

Lockheed Martin cuts ties to Boy Scouts over gay leader ban

lockheed_martin_logo_miLockheed Martin announced Thursday that it would end donations to the Boy Scouts of America over the organization’s ban on gay adult leaders.

The decision came after a review of the company’s philanthropy guidelines to evaluate its 2014 priorities, The Associated Press reports.

While the BSA’s National Council voted in May to lift the ban on gay Scouts, the organization continued to prevent gay leaders from serving among its ranks.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Johndroe said Lockheed Martin was glad for the change, but opposes the continued ban on gay leaders.

Lockheed follows UPS Inc., Merck & Co. and Intel in cutting ties to the Boy Scouts over its no-gays policy in recent years.

Johndroe said the company decided to end relationships with nonprofits that don’t share its corporate policies or commitment to diversity.

“We believe engaging with and funding an organization that openly discriminates is in conflict with our policies,” he said in a statement. “While we applaud the mission of the Boy Scouts and the good things they do in our communities, their policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and religious affiliation conflict with Lockheed Martin policies.”

Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Irving-based Boy Scouts, said Lockheed Martin was not a national sponsor but has had a positive impact by supporting Scouting in local communities.

“We respect the company’s right to express its own opinion and appreciate its recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization,” he wrote in an email. “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”

—  Dallasvoice

Marco Rubio raising money for group that tries to turn gay people straight

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Sen. Marc Rubio, R-Fla.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible presidential candidate in 2016, will deliver the keynote address at the annual fundraiser for the Florida Family Policy Council, a prominent social conservative organization that promotes discredited “conversion therapy” to help LGBT individuals become straight, Salon reported.

The Nov. 16 fundraising dinner honors Mat Staver, an ardent anti-gay activist who is suing New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie for signing a law banning gay-to-straight conversion therapy and has said that teaching gay rights in school is tantamount to “sexual assault.”

John Stemberger, the Florida Family Policy Council’s president, also is an anti-gay activist. He is chairman of Trail Life, the “moral alternative” to the Boy Scouts of America, which recently lifted its ban on gay Scouts. Trail Life won’t accept openly gay boys as members, but offers counseling services to youth who suffer from “gender confusion.”

“We’re not going to tolerate somebody who’s, you know, here and queer, loud and proud, all of that nonsense,” Stemberger told social-conservative radio host Janet Mefferd.

Staver also has a history of making incendiary claims about gays. In June, he claimed the passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which prohibits employers form discriminating against LGBT employees and applicants, would “result in significant damage and even death of some of the individuals.”

After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June, Staver suggested the decision would bring the nation closer to “the realm of rebellion.”

—  Steve Ramos

New BSA president is former Secretary of Defense who helped end DADT

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Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will be the new president of the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board, the BSA announced Wednesday.

Gates, an Eagle Scout, will serve as an executive vice president and national president-elect upon the approval of the National Council in May. After the council’s approval, he would serve a two-year term as the BSA national president and lead the National Executive Board, which guides the BSA as it serves approximately 2.6 million youth members.

“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America,” Gates said in a statement. “As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be, and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today — an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today’s youth.”

As Secretary of Defense, Gates helped oversee the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned openly gay military members. The choice is an interesting one for the Irving-based organization, which has a storied past of discriminating against openly gay Scouts and volunteers. In May, the national council voted to allow openly gay Scouts, but not adult leaders.

Gates has a long history with the BSA, having served as a past member of the National Executive Board, past president of the National Eagle Scout Association and being awarded the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest commendation given by the BSA for extraordinary service to youth, and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, the highest mark of distinction and recognition for those with exceptional service and unselfish interests.

—  Dallasvoice

Keller church drops Boy Scout affiliation

KellerA Catholic church in Keller will stop sponsoring a Boy Scout troop in 2014 when a policy allowing gay Scouts goes into effect — mostly because, he admits, many Catholic priests are pedophiles.

Monsignor James Hart, the pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, cited his experience working with the Fort Worth Diocese and the lawsuits against pedophile priests as his reasoning — what he called a “very sad involvement in the various lawsuits filed against the Diocese for violations against the moral law in times past.”

He said these incidents “destroyed lives and caused many to lose their faith.” He blamed the crimes on priests “with a same-sex orientation.”

And he pointed out that those men had “taken an oath of celibacy in the service of a higher good.”

Because these priests had sex with young boys, the pastor concludes, obviously gay teens will have sex with each other.

“Given the facts of this known past, which as a Priest has broken my heart, do you honestly expect me to believe that when the time comes in the life of the Boy Scouts of America that there are 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 year old boys put together in overnight situations, some of whom with a self-professed same-sex orientation and attraction, that nothing undesirable is going to happen?” he said.

—  David Taffet

Dallas United Way chapter gives Boy Scouts Circle Ten Council $350K

United-Way-logo1The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has once again allotted grant money to the Dallas-based Circle Ten Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Circle Ten received $200,000 for its life skills Learning for Life program and another $150,00 for its Trevor-Rees Jones ScoutReach program, which helps underprivileged youth be able to participate in Scouting. The council received $315,846 from United Way last year.

LGBT advocates have tried to discourage United Way chapters from donating to BSA councils that don’t have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination polices, including a Change.org petition targeting United Way Worldwide to cut funding to the BSA.

While Circle Ten doesn’t have a nondiscrimination policy, United Way officials have said the organization requires its grantees to follow all federal laws but it doesn’t require them to adopt its own internal polices.

But the council’s leadership wouldn’t take a stance on the resolution that passed May 23 to allow gay youth into the BSA, saying only that the council would follow the policy if it changed.

The Human Rights Campaign is continuing to discourage companies and organizations from donating to the BSA because it still bans gay adult leaders.

In the meantime, hopefully some of that grant money will help gay Scouts in the future.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Emotional reaction to Boy Scouts’ decision to lift ban on gay youth

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Ousted lesbian den mother Jennifer Tyrrell hugs her son Cruz after learning the results of the Boy Scouts vote to allow gay youth. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

It was a touching scene in Grapevine Thursday when LGBT advocates who’ve worked for inclusion in the Boy Scouts were able to celebrate the victory of coming closer to their goal.

The BSA will begin allowing openly gay Scouts in January, but the ban on gay leaders will remain in place.

Those who’ve fought for full inclusion said they’re focus will remain on the Scouts until all gays are welcome in the organization.

Former den mother Jennifer Tyrrell said that in a year the American people were able to tell the BSA that they wanted the policy to change, so she has hope that the voices of allies will continue to be heard in the future.

Watch the video below.

—  Dallasvoice

‘It’s acceptable to be gay now’

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MIXED EMOTIONS | Ousted lesbian den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, left, and gay Scout Pascal Tessier speak during a press conference Thursday, May 23, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, after the Boy Scouts of America announced it had voted to lift its ban on gay youth. Despite the vote, the Irving-based BSA will continue to bar gay adult leaders and employees. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Out Scouts, leaders celebrate BSA’s decision to lift ban on gay youth, but vow to keep fighting until LGBT leaders, employees can also serve

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor

GRAPEVINE — Gay youth members of the Boy Scouts of America will no longer face being kicked out because of their sexual orientation after BSA leadership voted to lift a 22-year ban.

The 1,400 members of the BSA’s National Council passed a resolution Thursday, May 23, requiring troops everywhere to welcome gay youth.

The historic vote comes more than a year after Ohio den mother Jennifer Tyrrell was removed from her position for being gay. Her removal created a national outrage and launched a national campaign with GLAAD to end the ban.
Cheers rang out as Tyrrell and others gathered in Grapevine hugged each other and cried after learning the result of the vote, which passed with more than 60 percent support. Family and friends shook their heads in joyful disbelief that years of work had paid off. Tyrrell called the resolution’s passage a first step, but said she and others will continue to push for full inclusion. The BSA will continue to ban gay adult leaders like Tyrrell, as well as LGBT employees.

“We will continue until there’s equality for all,” Tyrrell said, adding that her son, Cruz, is the reason she fights. “The Boy Scouts still tell him his moms aren’t good enough. Everyday they tell him his family is different and that’s not OK. He has a great family. He’s very loved. The BSA needs to recognize that they’re hurting him and others like him.”

Paschal Tessier, a gay Maryland Scout who faced not receiving his Eagle Scout Award because of the ban, was overcome with joy. He called his older brother, who is a gay Eagle Scout, to tell him the news back home. But he said the organization hasn’t solved the issue of equality because gay leaders are still barred from BSA ranks.

“It’s acceptable to be gay now,” he said. “But they’re trying to solve one form of discrimination with another. The adults in this that actually made this happen, now they’re not going to able to be Scouts like I am.”
Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, said the fight is renewed to include gay adults leaders like his two moms who were involved with him in Scouting.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but our fight goes on,” Wahls said.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued a statement calling this “a historic day for Boy Scouts across the country who want to be a part of this great American institution.”

“But the new policy doesn’t go far enough,” he added. “Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans.”

HRC also noted that the Boy Scouts still bans gay employees and called for the organization to adopt an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policy across the board.

Resource Center Dallas CEO Cece Cox called Thursday’s vote a “half-measure.”

“It is a step forward from their previous position, but not a full solution,” she said. ” It tells gay Scouts that they can take part in their troops, but once they reach adulthood, they will be denied the ability to lead. It also excludes open LGBT adult leadership in the Scouts, thereby maintaining a system of ‘less-than’ status. Scouting should not rest and pat itself on the back for only lifting the ban on gay Scouts; they should take the next step and lift it for adult leadership as well.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who has been outspoken in support of the ban, said he was “greatly disappointed with the decision.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins echoed Perry’s comments.

“It is clear that the current BSA leadership will bend with the winds of popular culture, and the whims of liberal special interest groups,” Perkins said in a statement. “There is little doubt that God will soon be ushered out of scouting. Now is the time for new leadership. In the meantime, we will stand with those BSA Councils who will now act to protect boys from a new policy that only creates moral confusion and disrespects the views of the vast majority of Scouting parents.”

The decision takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. A task force to help with the implementation was already been created.
Wahls said his organization will ensure the policy goes into effect and be a watchdog over councils in the event that gay Scouts face discrimination.

Leading up to the vote, dozens of protesters held signs outside the Gaylord Texan that read “No on the resolution” to greet council members meeting there.

Across the street at the Great Wolf Lodge, gay Scouts and allies held an Equal Scouting Summit, sharing emotional stories about the negative impact of the gay ban and how changing it would help Scouting survive in America.

The Boy Scouts ban on gay Scouts and leaders began in 1991 when the organization determined open homosexuals went against the part of the Scout Oath that mandates members be “morally straight.”

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban in a 2000 case when justices ruled that the private organization could choose its membership.

Even though gay Scouts have been kicked out and leaders removed for being gay, many still continued to serve quietly or with the approval of their local troop.

After Tyrrell was removed, AT&T CEO Randall Stevenson and Ernest & Young CEO Jim Turley, members of BSA’s Executive Board, then joined forces to discuss the ban in February. The board decided to postpone a decision until the National Council could vote.

The compromise to only allow gay youth was announced in April after the organization surveyed parents and leaders. But with 70 percent of troops chartered by faith-based organizations, the debate continued to draw backlash from conservatives. The Mormon and the Roman Catholic churches came out in favor of the compromise.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Scenes from Wednesday’s Equal Scouting Summit

Eric Hay, who earned his Eagle Scout through Dallas-based Circle Ten Council, speaks about how he left Boy Scouts after he came out and was not allowed to be an adult leader. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Eric Hay, who earned his Eagle Scout through Dallas-based Circle Ten Council, speaks about how he left Boy Scouts after he came out and was not allowed to be an adult leader. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Boy Scouts of America will announce a historic vote this afternoon after the 1,400 members of its National Council weigh in on whether gay youth should be allowed to participate the organization.

LGBT advocates for the change and protesters were in Grapevine on Wednesday to voice their opinions on the compromise to welcome gay Scouts but not adult leaders.

BSA President Wayne Perry had an op-ed in USA Today on Wednesday that called for the measure’s passage, saying BSA “policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation’s children.”

Watch video from Wednesday’s Equal Scouting Summit below.

—  Dallasvoice