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Despite considerable publicity leading up to yesterday’s
demonstrations in front of about 20
Boy Scouts of
America offices around the country, the rallies drew only a handful of protesters and failed to persuade Boy Scout officials to open up scouting to homosexuals.
The protest was organized by
Scouting for All, a homosexual rights organization. The group’s main demonstration was in front of the Circle Ten Council in Dallas, Texas — the closest demonstrators could get to the national BSA office in nearby Irving.
The demonstrators were said to be peaceful, and were answered with a written statement from BSA. Protesters carried signs and, in some locations, listened to politicians and activists give speeches.
The demonstrators want the Boy Scouts of America to accept homosexual men as scoutmasters and homosexual boys as members. BSA recently won an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court affirming its right as a private organization to deny membership to homosexuals.
In all locations, signs and speakers called the Boys Scouts bigots, spoke of being denied human rights and accused the Boys Scouts of discriminating against homosexuals.
The official BSA response provided to the demonstrators in Dallas, a copy of which WND obtained, stated: “Circle Ten Council believes that the U.S. Supreme Court acted properly in upholding the rights of the Boy Scouts of America as a private organization to select its own members. As part of the Boy Scouts of America, we respect the right of everyone to hold and express his or her opinion. We simply ask people who disagree with the position of the BSA to do the same and respect our rights as a private, voluntary organization.”
Although Scouting for All listed 36 locations for demonstrations, very few had more than a handful of demonstrators. At least six Scout offices contacted by WorldNetDaily reported that they did not see any protesters at all. A number of other Scout offices could not confirm or deny whether a demonstration had taken place.
“Their website makes them sound like a very large group, but I guess there really aren’t very many,” said a BSA Council receptionist.
|Only four protesters showed up in San Diego. Many locations had none at all. Photo by James Daugherty.|
Four protesters showed up at the BSA Desert Pacific Council office in San Diego. They identified themselves as members of Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays. Howard Mezner, a former scoutmaster who resigned last December in protest over the BSA policy towards homosexuals, led the group.
Mezner told WorldNetDaily that he believes Scout troops should have homosexual scoutmasters, adding that homosexuals would provide a good role model for young boys.
|Howard Mezner. Photo by James Daugherty.|
“I say, why not?” said Mezner, about the homosexual as male role model and scout leader. “He’s a man of the community who’s working as part of a family. It can be two men. It can be two women. Society is changing. Times are changing. Boy Scouts need to keep up with times.”
Mezner also accused the Boy Scouts of discriminating against non-Christians. When he went to a scout overnight camp, he was offered bacon and eggs for breakfast. But, he said, he felt discriminated against, since he is Jewish and doesn’t eat pork. Although he did not inform the group in advance of his special dietary needs, Mezner said they should have been prepared to offer an alternative nevertheless.
David Hodges, field director for the San Diego County Council, met with reporters in front of the scout office and issued a statement echoing other official BSA responses to the demonstrations:
“The Boy Scouts of America respects the opinions of any individual and their right to demonstrate against the policies of the BSA, but we also ask that they respect our right as a private, voluntary organization to have our opinions and to have our policies,” said Hodges.
Mezner and his group complained that the Boy Scout office is on public land that is leased for $1 a year. Similar arrangements for BSA offices and camps are common in many locations around the country.
|Four policemen, four members of the news media and four homosexual protesters at San Diego demonstration. Photo by James Daugherty.|
Hodges explained that BSA pays all costs of maintenance, upkeep and landscaping, and also handles all reservations for other groups who wish to use the park.
“The park is used by everybody. We run this portion of the park. We reserve it for outside groups and anybody’s welcome to use it,” said Hodges. “We do all the upkeep of the property here, and we lease it from the city. All the maintenance, all the expenses, the landscaping, everything we take care of.”
“We want to take it back from the Christian, fundamentalist right,” said Mezner of his group’s goal. “I’m finished with it as it is today.”