Boy Scouts of America ends ban on gay adult leaders

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates addresses the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., after being selected as the organization's new president. The executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has unanimously approved a resolution that would end the organization's blanket ban on gay adult leaders and let individual scout units set their own policy on the long-divisive issue. The committee action follows an emphatic speech in May by the BSA's president, the former defense secretary declaring that the longstanding ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable, May 23, 2014, | Photo by AP Mark Zaleski, St. George News

NEW YORK (AP) — The executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has unanimously approved a resolution that would end the organization’s blanket ban on gay adult leaders and let individual Scout units set their own policy on the long-divisive issue. Units sponsored by churches opposed to the change could maintain the ban if they choose.

In a statement Monday, the BSA said the resolution was approved by the 17-member executive committee on Friday, and would become official policy immediately if ratified by the organization’s 80-member National Executive Board at a meeting on July 27.

The committee action follows an emphatic speech in May by the organization’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, declaring that the long-standing ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable. He and other BSA leaders said the ban was likely to be the target of lawsuits that the Scouts were apt to lose.

In 2013, after bitter internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as scouts, but not gay adults as leaders.

Under the new resolution, local scout units would be able to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation — a stance that several scout councils have already adopted in defiance of the official national policy.

“This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families,” the BSA statement said. “This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”

Several denominations that sponsor large numbers of Scout units — including the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormon church and the Southern Baptist Convention — have been apprehensive about ending the ban on gay adults.

Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land, who formerly led the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he was glad the policy allowed an exemption for religiously sponsored groups, but it didn’t resolve his main concern: That neither boys or girls in scouting should have leaders who are sexually attracted to their gender, whether the leader is gay or straight.

“If you put them in the compromising situations that you are sometimes in with Scout leaders and Scouts, in terms of camping and other situations, it could lead to great tragedy for children,” Land said. “It’s best to avoid the temptation.”

In a memo sent Monday to local Scout officials nationwide, the BSA’s top leaders said they had consulted their religious partners before acting on the resolution, and they pledged to defend the right of any church-sponsored units to continue excluding gay adults from leadership posts.

The BSA “rejects any interference with or condemnation of the diverse beliefs of chartering organizations on matters of marriage, family, and sexuality,” the memo said.

The Mormon church, in a statement, indicated that this stance was crucial to its continued role as a leading sponsor of Boy Scout units.

“As a chartering organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always had the right to select Scout leaders who adhere to moral and religious principles that are consistent with our doctrines and beliefs,” the church said. “Any resolution adopted by the Boy Scouts of America regarding leadership in Scouting must continue to affirm that right.”

The BSA’s deference to the religious organizations was criticized by Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group.

“Half measures are unacceptable and discriminatory exemptions have no place in the Boy Scouts,” Griffin said in a statement. “It’s long overdue that BSA leaders demonstrate true leadership and embrace a full national policy of inclusion.”

Among other points in the BSA’s memo:

—Prospective employees of the national organization could no longer be denied a staff position on the basis of sexual orientation.

—Gay leaders who were previously removed from Scouting because of the ban would have the opportunity to reapply for volunteer positions.

—There would be no change in the long-standing requirement that youth and adult Scout members profess a “duty to God.”

Gates, who became the BSA’s president in May 2014, said at the time that he personally would have favored ending the ban on gay adults, but he opposed any further debate after the Scouts’ policymaking body upheld the ban. In May, however, he said at the BSA’s annual national meeting that recent events “have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore.”

He cited a defiant announcement by the BSA’s New York City chapter in early April that it had hired Pascal Tessier, the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout, as a summer camp leader. Gates also cited broader developments related to gay rights, and warned that rigidly maintaining the ban “will be the end of us as a national movement.”

The Scouts’ resolution was hailed by Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout raised by two lesbian moms who now heads the advocacy group Scouts for Equality.

“While this policy change is not perfect — BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults — it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement,” Wahls said.

For a variety of reasons, the Boy Scouts — like several other major youth organizations — have experienced a membership decline in recent decades. Current membership, according to the BSA, is about 2.4 million boys and about 1 million adults.

Story by David Crary, Associated Press. Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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24 Comments

  • Lastdays July 14, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    It appears that the scouting experiment has officially run its course. Chalk up another win for the progressive agenda.

    • anybody home July 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Many of us would rather have our sons led by good and good-hearted gay men than by hypocritical, angry and bigoted straight men. By all means, LastDays, chalk up another win for the progressive agenda. It’s long overdue!

      • Lastdays July 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm

        So, if your not gay the only other choice is to be angry, hypocritical and bigoted ?? That’s my point, there is an agenda that is running rampant and the only answer from this group is if someone disagrees is name calling. That’s their only ammunition. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Maybe you’re wrong. Maybe they’re BOTH wrong. With some intelligent conversation between both parties, they should at least go away respecting each others opinion. But if it comes to yelling and name calling because that’s all you have to offer, then what is there to discuss ??

        • anybody home July 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm

          Look, you’re the one who posted a bigoted comment saying that the Scouting experiment was now over (now that gay men would be allowed to be leaders). If that’s not bigoted, I don’t know what is. I responded to it and now you think I’m bigoted. You have a lot of mud in your brain, Last Days.

      • htown July 14, 2015 at 4:09 pm

        Are those the only other choices, WTH

      • NotSoFast July 14, 2015 at 6:23 pm

        Anybody Home,
        you sound like you been hitting the bottle (and/or) your just a freaking idiot. Remember, when the progressive left demand you dress in only rainbow colors Depends or they’ll put you in a special box, Just smile and say ‘yes sir’

        • anybody home July 14, 2015 at 10:38 pm

          You are disgusting.

      • Jensen July 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm

        You say that many would, but bear in mind that the majority would not. It’s views and opinions like yours that will kill the BSA.

  • Bender July 14, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Not sure if you are speaking from a conservative Mormon perspective. If you are, please be aware that this policy change brings the BSA in line with what is already LDS policy. The sky has not fallen.

    • Bender July 14, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Whoops, previous comment meant as a reply to LASTDAYS.

  • wilbur July 14, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    traillifeusa

    forget about the scouts – they have caved

    • Bender July 14, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      Right WILBUR, caved so they their policy is now in line with LDS policy. Those liberal Mormon octogenarians!

      • wilbur July 14, 2015 at 8:24 pm

        someone here give a … what the Mormon Minority (USA) think?
        Ed. ellipsis

        • Bender July 15, 2015 at 11:28 am

          Easy there WILBUR. There’s a strong correlation between fear of the gays and latent homosexuality. Watch yourself in unguarded moments while alone with your buddies.

      • Jensen July 15, 2015 at 12:15 pm

        Why do you keep dragging the Mormons into this? It’s a national issue. The Mormons aren’t the issue, it’s the gay loving liberals.
        NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

    • anybody home July 14, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Good to know some people have more generous hearts.

  • AnnieMated July 14, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Ladies and gentlemen:

    As I considered what has befallen our country these last few decades, Civil Rights ofr blacks, women, gays, the Vietnam war(conflict), the cold war, the gulf war the iraq war, the war on drugs, the liberal agenda, the conservative agenda, etc etc I get angry, upset, confused, bewildered and sometimes I just sit and wonder wtf happened to America, our America. LAdies and gentlemen, we are the laughing stock of the world. The reason why is simple. We are a nation of greedy, money grubbing, McDonalds sucking …* . It sickens me that we seem to care more about whether or not two guys or girls should be able to legally marry one another then we do about education and the economy for example. Maybe this is just my experience but it seems that a lot of you talk a big game when it comes to what you do for others, but, be real, when was the last time you donated your time to others? When was the last time you flipped off Fox News or MSNBC and went to some other news channel that you knew wasn’t as “similar” as the one you like. A lot of you like to post blatantly biased opinion blogs as “fact” and you defend it as such. Think about it, when was the last time you actually did more then 10 seconds of research into something? To quote Aaron Sorkin
    “….so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the …* you’re talking about. Yosemite?

    It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chests. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and
    cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men, we aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it, it didn’t make us feel inferior.
    We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed, by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. ”

    My point is this, the problem with America is not gay people. It’s not the blacks or the Christians, the Mormons or the Muslims, It’s not porn, politics or SCOTUS. Those are all just scapegoats we use so we don’t have to face the real problem facing America today. You want to make America great again? Good then get up off your butt, take responsibility for yourself and your actions, stop blaming everyone else, treat people with respect, stop worrying about what your neighbor is doing, get out there, get educated, VOTE! and teach all this to your children so that the America they come into is better then the one we have now.

    To quote Charlie Chaplain:

    “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

    Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….

    !/images/photos/0000/0874/Great_Dictator_Pub_140-6_normal.jpg! The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

    To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. …..

    Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

    In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

    Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

    Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”,
    Ed. ellipsis …*

    • fun bag July 15, 2015 at 12:18 am

      i feel sorry for the person who has to moderate such a long-winded tirade, and what’s with all the italics?

    • Jensen July 15, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      yawn… too many words.

    • 42214 July 15, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      Booting preachfest

    • radioviking July 15, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      ANNIEMATED, a lot of words to say..uh…..I don’t even know what your point was. You were all over. Let me offer some help:
      Basic writing tip:
      1. Have a focus point or thesis (main topic)
      2. Support your thesis with evidence and details.
      3. If/when possible, draw upon multiple sources to elaborate on main point – stay focused on the thesis,
      4. Come to a conclusion while summarizing the thesis.
      Good luck next time.

      • AnnieMated July 15, 2015 at 5:30 pm

        Thanks for the tips Radio. 🙂 Would you believe me if I told you that it started off on the road toward Cohesive Opinion City but took a sharp turn toward Rantville when emotion highjacked the car? 🙂

  • 42214 July 15, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Maybe this will give some of our boys and young men hope knowing there are alternate lifestyles to find happiness outside the oppressive views of bigoted zealots. Good for the BSA.

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