The Democrat-controlled California State Assembly rejected a resolution honoring the Boy Scouts for the organization’s 85th anniversary.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 90, introduced by Assemblyman Robert Pacheco, R-Walnut, need 41 votes to pass but received only 37. Seventeen Democrats voted against the measure, and the remainder of the 80-member body either did not vote or were absent. The resolution was debated for about an hour on Monday before the vote, said an assembly staff member.
Pacheco introduced ACR 90 “to recognize the Boy Scouts’ significant contributions to our communities and the lives of millions of boys during the past 85 years,” the assemblyman said.
Boy Scouts of America was granted a federal charter by Congress on June 15, 1916.
The Boy Scouts’ mission is to develop the ethical quality of young people’s character while offering them responsible fun and adventure. Long regarded as a model for other youth groups, the Boy Scouts teach members the values of citizenship, leadership and service. Included among their ranks are such prominent American leaders as astronaut Neil Armstrong and former presidents Gerald Ford and John F. Kennedy. Other former Scouts listed in the resolution are filmmaker Steven Spielberg, presidential candidates Bill Bradley and Ross Perot, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and football great Steve Young.
“The Boy Scouts is a well-respected organization and deserves our recognition for its long standing presence in our community,” said Pacheco. “Democrats sent a message to millions of our youth that the legislature condemns the positive influence the Boy Scouts have made to our society. Their failure to support the values learned in scouting is disheartening and a slap in the face to Boy Scouts everywhere.”
Ostensibly to appeal to opponents’ criticism of the Scouts’ ban on homosexual leaders, the resolution was amended to include “It should be the continuing goal of all youth-related organizations to promote the values of equality and equal opportunity.” Even so, the measure still failed.
One of the 17 “no” votes came from Assemblymember Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, who spoke against ACR 90 Monday from the Assembly floor.
Kehoe, who is described in her biography as “the first member of the gay and lesbian community to be elected to public office in San Diego,” told WorldNetDaily she “could not support the resolution until [the Scouts] change their policy of discrimination. This has been a controversy in the organization for going on 10 years now. Church groups, civic groups and even Boy Scout groups have wanted to change their policy to include all boys and male leaders.”
The issue first came to Kehoe’s attention when a constituent was expelled from the Boy Scouts, the assemblymember said. While participating in a citizens’ patrol for safer streets, it came to light in media reports that the constituent is a homosexual. The San Diego scout troop, of which he was a leader, consequently dismissed him. Kehoe’s constituent sued the Scouts, taking his case all the way to the California Supreme Court, which rejected his arguments, explained the freshman assemblymember.
“In my way of thinking, he was an upstanding citizen and a great role model. And his sexual orientation had nothing to do with his high performance and should not have been the grounds to discriminate on. The Scouts are really missing out in serving all the boys that want to be in there. And they’re also missing out on gay men that could be great role models for youth,” Kehoe continued. “You have to decide if discrimination is always wrong or if it’s acceptable sometimes. I think that it is always wrong.”
Boy Scouts of America believes it has the right, as a private organization, to set its own standards of membership. The homosexual lifestyle, Scouting advocates argue, is contrary to the ethics promoted by the Boy Scouts. Critics, however, believe since the organization is often sponsored by public entities, such as state and local governments, the Scouts should not be allowed to discriminate against any member of the public.
On the same day ACR 90 was rejected, the Assembly unanimously approved a resolution extending congratulations to the California Arts Council on its 25th anniversary. The resolution, ACR 92, also expressed the legislature’s desire to join in the commemoration of the council’s “Year of the Arts – 2001” campaign and declares Oct. 10 “California Arts Day.”
“The stated mission of the California Arts Council is to make available and accessible quality art that reflects all of California’s diverse cultures; to support the state’s broad economic, educational, and social goals through the arts; to provide leadership for all levels of the arts community; and to present effective programs that add a further dimension to our cities, our schools, our jobs, and our creative spirit,” the resolution reads.
Sponsored by Assemblyman Marco Antonio Firebaugh, D-Cudahy, ACR 92 is now being considered by the state Senate. Firebaugh voted against the Boy Scouts resolution.
A Senate staff member said he was unaware of any similar resolutions commemorating the Boy Scouts’ 85th anniversary circulating in the state Senate.