Criticizing President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore for the
government’s current “discrimination” probe of the Boy Scouts, Texas
Gov. George W. Bush said yesterday, “I am troubled by this memo
appearing to suggest that the Clinton-Gore administration might sever
the federal government’s long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts
Washington Times reported yesterday, a division of the Interior Department has distributed a memorandum soliciting information on whether its ties to the Boy Scouts violate Clinton’s recent executive order banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Bush, a former Cub Scout, made it clear that he admires the venerated scouting organization and does not think its 5 million members (plus 1.2 million adult leaders) should be restricted from use of public lands and facilities.
Nattie Silva — the assistant director, diversity and equal opportunity for the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation — had sent the memorandum to all commissioners and regional directors asking for details on the use of federal resources by the Boy Scouts of America. She said the request was authorized by
Executive Order 13160 signed
by Clinton on June 23.
Recipients were asked to respond to the request for information on the Boy Scouts organization by today. Silva said the information would be used to complete a report that will be given to the Department of Justice on Tuesday.
Executive Order 13160 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The 90-year-old Boy Scouts of America has a policy against homosexuals becoming scouts or serving as adult leaders. Although homosexual activists have targeted the Boy Scouts for many years, their campaign has been stepped up significantly in recent weeks. There have been
protests at BSA offices around the country, efforts to stop
donations from corporations and the United Way, efforts to eliminate the
use of public facilities, and even a protest against Eagle Scouts at the
Democratic National Convention.
“For many years,” said Bush, “the Boy Scouts have conducted jamborees and other events on public lands and provided thousands of volunteer hours to help maintain our national parks. I hope that President Clinton and Vice President Gore respect the role the Boy Scouts play in our society and will not allow them to be shut out of federal lands,” the Republican presidential nominee added.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Jake Siewert confirmed the purpose of the review.
“The bottom line is there’s been no final determination yet on the federal government’s involvement with the Boy Scouts — whether it violates the order,” Siewert said, according to the Washington Times. “The Justice Department’s developing guidelines, and they are still working on them.”
The controversial memorandum instructs federal employees to “identify and explain all activities, events, or programs that each of your Bureaus has with the Boy Scouts of America, specifically including, but not limited to, any such programs related to the Boy Scout Jamboree to be held in July 2001.”
The BSA National Jamboree has been held every four years at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia since 1981 — previous to that in other public facilities. President Clinton was the first president to turn down a request to speak to the 30,000 boys and their leaders in 1993.
The Army liaison officer with the Boy Scouts refused to comment about the memorandum, and referred all questions to the public affairs officer, Ken Perotte, who didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, pro-family groups are blaming President Clinton and Vice President Gore for the escalation of homosexual attacks against the Boy Scouts.
“Ignoring the rule of law, the Clinton administration appears to be readying a shocking attack on the Boy Scouts,” said Family Research Council senior director of cultural studies Robert Knight. “Americans need to fight back by telling the administration and the homosexual groups that are prompting such attacks: Keep your hands off the Boy Scouts.”
“Clearly the Clinton administration is preparing a major attack on the Boy Scouts by doing an end-run around the Supreme Court decision on behalf of the Scouts,” said FRC legal studies senior director Janet LaRue. “There can be no other plausible reason for seeking this type of information about a single organization.”
She said EO 13160 goes beyond anything authorized by Congress.
“Executive orders are supposed to carry out acts of Congress, not amend existing law. And this Interior memo reads like it was drafted by the Lambda Legal Defense Fund,” said LaRue.
The Lambda Legal Defense Fund is a law firm specializing in defense of homosexual rights cases.
Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, spoke strongly about the effort to remove the Boy Scouts from public facilities. He said attacks on the Boy Scouts policy would lead to attacks on religions that teach homosexuality is a sin.
“My concern is that they (homosexual activists) are going to change the consensus in America, and we’re going to lose that First Amendment right of freedom of expression,” said Sheldon. “First the Boy Scouts — and as goes the Boy Scouts, so goes the church,” he added.
The Traditional Values Coalition represents 43,000 different churches, according to Sheldon.
“They are trying to crucify the Boy Scouts because they really want to get, in their minds, to the true culprit against homosexuality – the church,” said Sheldon. “If they can knock off the Boy Scouts through executive order – doing that application of what Clinton has done – then let me tell you, the church lays bare and vulnerable.”
Tim Wildmon, spokesman for the
Association has been an outspoken opponent of the efforts to change the BSA policy. He said there is no place for homosexuals in the Boy Scouts or any youth organization, and has called for strong public reaction so Congress will respond.
He said the homosexual activists are determined to win at all costs, and that is why they are willing to openly attack a revered organization like the Boy Scouts of America.
“They’re in your face, and they’re rude, and they’re not going to yield or be respectful of someone’s sincere beliefs. They equate any kind of disagreement with hate,” said Wildmon.
He praised the Boy Scouts for standing firm on the issue and called on Congress to come to their aid.
“If you can’t stand up for the Boy Scouts then just go home,” Wildmon said, as his message to elected leaders.
BSA’s national spokesman Greg Shields doesn’t mince words:
“We have made our position very clear. We do not permit openly homosexual adult leaders, and we will not,” said Shields. The Boy Scout Oath requires boys and leaders to be “morally straight.” Shields said homosexuals are not living according to the oath and will never be permitted.
“Everyone knows our stand on this issue,” he added. He said the Boy Scouts are made up of volunteer leaders who are doing a very good job of defending the moral standards of the organization. He said BSA does not participate in lobbying, but leaders may do so if they wish.
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