“For far too long, this issue has divided and distracted us. Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good.”
Robert Gates, BSA president.
In a vote of the executive committee yesterday the BSA ends the ban on gay leaders.
From a BSA press release–
“On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month. The resolution is effective immediately.”
For some years the question of sexual orientation has opened a rift in our families, our communities, our nation, and the BSA. It’s not my intention to argue, we all must search our hearts and decide this issue for ourselves.
It’s difficult to separate this issue from politics. Recent Supreme Court decisions have settled many questions in law but complex political questions of how this issue relates to constitutional freedoms (the freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of speech) continue to be debated. Certainly we can agree that excluding a class of people for something over which they have no choice is objectively unethical.
I will say that, although it should have been made a decade or two ago, I welcome the decision. I’m not in a particularly celebratory mood – I understand why some expressions of religion choose to discriminate on this basis I don’t share that point of view.
From a practical standpoint this decision will effect our overall membership numbers. Reportedly 70% units are chartered by religious entities, and it’s almost certain that some will find this change untenable.
I’ve openly opposed this discrimination in the BSA for fifteen or twenty years, so I understand how it feels to be on the outside looking in, and how distressing this change will be to some. I struggled with this question mightily. I chose to keep serving the young people in my community, and working to change this discriminatory policy. Something I could only accomplish by continuing to be a member of the BSA.
The quote from our national president says it all “It’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good.”
Here’s Robert Gates speaking about the resolution –
Naturally we are not all going to agree on this. Like most of you I am weary of arguing and debating this issue.
I welcome you to leave a comment below but online discussions of debatable questions are rarely polite exchanges of ideas and quickly degrade into personal attacks – even among Scouters.
I think we can do better than that – please, please, please prove me right!
If you’d like to contact me via email feel free to do so
A WORD ABOUT COMMENT MODERATION
I always moderate comments here on the blog and in my social media outlets.
Name calling, personal attacks, needless sniping, and SHOUTING, are the reasons I remove comments.
Update 7.28 [6:30] PM
It has oft been repeated in the comments that this policy change exposes religious organizations that charter units to being sued (I assume over discrimination) or that the BSA will not defend the right of religious charters to discriminate. The new policy allows chartered organizations to decide, but does not mean that they are on their own when it comes to defending those decisions.
These sort of claims have no basis and I ask those of you who are making such statements to stop misleading people.
The BSA’s legal firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed prepared a memo addressing these concerns
“We understand that some religious organizations are concerned that if they exclude homosexuals from leadership in Scouting units that they charter after the BSA changes its policy they will be vulnerable to lawsuits from the potential leaders they exclude. Those concerns should be allayed by the legal defenses that religious organizations have under place of public accommodation statutes and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The risk that a homosexual activist might file a lawsuit seeking admission to a Scouting unit (e.g., a Boy Scout troop or a Cub Scout pack) of a religious chartered organization whose religious values are inconsistent with homosexual conduct cannot be eliminated. We live in a litigious society, and frivolous lawsuits are threatened and filed every day. However, any lawsuit challenging the religious requirements in a Scouting unit chartered by a religious organization would be unlikely to succeed or even make much progress.
.. the BSA would not seek to exert pressure on any religious chartered organization. Rather, the BSA will help safeguard the religious chartered organizations by defending their protected expression and religious liberties in connection with the selection of unit leaders.”
Update 7.29 [9:50] AM
“The National Catholic Committee on Scouting recognizes that differences in religious beliefs among chartered organizations and society in general have played a part in the creation of this resolution. While this fluctuating situation will be increasingly challenging, we recognize the vital importance of providing a Catholic emphasis to Catholic Scouts and Scouters seeking ways to live out their “duty to God”. We also recognize the increasing need for the Catholic Church to offer Scouting as a program of youth ministry. Chartering Scout units will ensure that youth within their faith communities are led by faith-filled role models who share the same interests in Scouting.”
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet. When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined. The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.”
In the resolution adopted on July 27, 2015, and in subsequent verbal assurances to us, BSA has reiterated that it expects those who sponsor Scouting units (such as the Church) to appoint Scout leaders according to their religious and moral values “in word and deed and who will best inculcate the organization’s values through the Scouting program.” At this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA, and as in the past, will appoint Scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify Church doctrine, values, and standards.