Robert Gates calls for end to ban on gay BSA leaders


From the New York Times:

Robert M. Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America and former secretary of defense, on Thursday called to end the Scouts’ blanket ban on gay adult leaders, warning the group’s executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” and that “any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”

Speaking at the Boy Scouts’ annual national meeting in Atlanta, Mr. Gates said cascading events, including potential employment-discrimination lawsuits and the impending Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, as well as mounting internal dissent over the exclusionary policy, led him to conclude that the current rules “cannot be sustained.”

If the Boy Scouts do not change on their own, he said, the courts are likely to force them to, and “we must all understand that this will probably happen sooner rather than later.”

In a nod to religious organizations that sponsor a majority of local Scout troops, he said they should remain free to set their own guidelines for leaders.

The Episcopal Church urged this action at General Convention 2000

Resolution Number:2000-C031
Title:Recommend Clergy to Engage the Boy Scouts of America on Issues of Sexual Orientation
Legislative Action Taken:Concurred as Amended
Final Text:

Resolved, That the 73rd General Convention recommend that all clergy in charge of congregations and vestries:

1) Inform the local Boy Scouts of America council and other organizations of the Episcopal Church’s policy adopted at the 65th General Convention (1976) that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church”;

2) Encourage the Boy Scouts of America to allow membership to youth and adult leaders irrespective of their sexual orientation;

3) Strongly encourage individual churches which charter or host scout units to open a dialogue with the unit leaders, scouts, and their parents regarding discrimination against youth and leaders on the basis of sexual orientation;

4) Engage in educational programs within their churches to inform members and others about these issues; and be it further

Resolved, That the 73rd General Convention recommend the Office of the General Convention send a copy of this resolution to the National Office of the Boy Scouts of America.

At its 2015 annual meeting the Diocese of Virginia resolved:

…seeking fidelity to our baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being, urges vestries and parishioners to encourage parish BSA units to avoid discrimination against any qualified LGBT applicants for leadership positions….

Other dioceses have passed similar motions.

Photo Credit

Posted by Weston Matthews

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Philip B. Spivey
Philip B. Spivey

I would have liked to see a more clarion delivery of this decision, also. But progress, as we know, lurches forward in fits and starts and stalls.

The BSA's motives are not wholly pure and my guess is that they can no longer ignore the lawsuits and the radical changes in public sentiment. Even so, the Holy Spirit frequently
manages to drag a few of our progressive heroes and sheroes over the finish line kicking and screaming For one, Lyndon Johnson's capitulation to progressive pressure in the 60's; he pushed several progressive agendas through Congress. For another, we'll never know how many progresive "finish-lines" Eleanor Roosevelt pushed FDR over; surely many.

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Christopher Epting

A less than hardy endorsement by Gates but I guess it's better than nothing.

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