Our view: Boy Scouts grow up on gay rights
February 1, 2013 3:16PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: March 5, 2013 6:10AM
It’s a start. A big start.
The Boy Scouts of America, following the national tide of acceptance toward gays in American life, is likely to lift its ban on gays in Scouting.
While a huge step forward, the policy change would be an incomplete victory.
The Boy Scouts is expected to lift its national ban against gay leaders and members, but leave the final decision up to the religious, civic and educational groups that run Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops across America.
Some 69 percent of those organizations are faith-based, with the Mormon and the Roman Catholic churches accounting for about 30 percent of the nation’s 2.7 million Scouts.
We respect the rights of those groups and others to hold true to their religious views.
But America is turning toward broad acceptance of gays . President Barack Obama supports gay marriage, as do 53 percent of Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Conservative groups like the Family Research Council dismissed the possible change, saying the Boy Scouts were capitulating to the “bullying of homosexual activists.”
As if gays were the only ones fighting this battle. In fact, one of the main groups pushing for the Scouting change, in addition to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is run by four straight Eagle Scouts.
“People said to us, ‘Start your own organization’ ” to replace the Boy Scouts, said Brad Hankins, campaign director for Scouts for Equality. “We say this is our organization.
“Being an Eagle Scout is part of our identity. ... At the end, you want to be proud of that. Being tied to a discriminatory organization doesn’t leave you feeling proud.”
Hankins also knows a more open and inclusive Boy Scouts is crucial to the organization’s future.
The Boy Scouts aren’t capitulating. They are, like most of us aim to do, maturing and adjusting to a more inclusive modern world.