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Just hours after the Boy Scouts of America revealed the organization would not go the way of most of corporate America and open their doors to open homosexuals, a prominent family group with millions of constituents said a resolution to the issue isn’t complicated:
Simply remove those members of the Scout board who want to “bully” the organization into accepting homosexuality.
The campaign for the Scouts to accept homosexual adult leaders and scouts has been ongoing since before 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court determined that as a private organization the Scouts could set standards for participation and did not have to accept homosexuals.
However, the pressure has grown intense in recent months and weeks, especially after the Scouts announced last summer they were reaffirming the ban following a two-year review of the issue.
Then last week the organization said it was considering that very move, and it was widely expected that at the board’s meeting in Irving, Texas, today they would formalize the change.
Instead, they postponed the decision until May.
The group said, “After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.”
Reports said a task force was being assembled to once again review the issue.
Officials with the American Family Association immediately said a social media campaign is what is needed to have AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson removed from the Scouting board.
“He doesn’t espouse their values; he should move on,” said the announcement from the organization that suggested constituents utilize Facebook, Twitter and an online petition to coalesce opposition to Stephenson.
- “Facebook users: Copy and post this message on the AT&T Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ATT. ATT CEO Randall Stephenson should resign from the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America. He doesn’t espouse their values, he should move on. http://secure.afa.net/afa/activism/SignPetition.asp?id=2000.
- Twitter users: Copy and paste this message to your Twitter account: @boyscouts @att ATT CEO Stephenson should resign from the BSA Board. He doesn’t espouse BSA values. https://bitly.com/Ws7GKK+ #boyscouts #att
- Not a social media user? Sign our petition to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. We’ll deliver the message for you!
AFA noted, “One of those leading the charge to change the policy to allow homosexuals as leaders is AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. … It seems Stephenson’s mission is to destroy the Boy Scouts of America from within. As an executive board member, he is using his corporate influence to bully the BSA into gay assimilation.”
AFA said, “It is time for Stephenson to resign from the BSA board.”
“AT&T has already cut funding to the BSA, a direct personal conflict of interest for Stephenson,” the group said. “It’s reasonable to expect members of the BSA board to lead in a way that exemplifies the very basic values that made the BSA successful. Stephenson has shown he doesn’t. It is time for Stephenson to resign from the BSA board.
“The BSA doesn’t need his leadership. The BSA doesn’t need his company’s money … especially with the strings he has attached to it,” AFA said.
Diane Gramley, president of the AFA of Pennsylvania, said the expressions of opposition already reaching the Scouts have been noticed.
“The Scouts have heard the concerns voiced by America and have postponed a vote on this controversial change in policy, but that does not solve the problem. They will be under continual pressure from within the executive board itself until they remove those who do not agree with the Boy Scouts’ mission. AT&T’s Randall Stephenson and Ernst & Young’s Jim Turley and anyone else within the board who may be working behind the scenes need to either willing resign or be forced to do so,” she said.
“Corporations and heads of corporations need to decide if it is more important to make less than five percent of the U.S. population happy by bowing to the bullying of organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign or to listen to the voices of the majority of Americans. What is happening to the Boy Scouts is a perfect example of how dangerous it is to add ‘sexual orientation’ to policies and ordinances. These corporations are being bullied because they added that terminology. The Scouts need to act now to eject Turley and Stephenson and any others who will not adhere to the Scouts’ mission from their executive board. Americans who understand the danger of a change in policy have spoken and it’s time for the Scouts to do some housecleaning.”
According to the Family Research Council, the board had been “poised to revoke their longstanding policy against having openly homosexual leaders and Scouts” when Americans stepped up.
“This is far from over. FRC will continue in our efforts to help the BSA stand strong against the corporate executives and activists who care more about conformity than character. We will do so by working directly with scouting parents, leaders of the faith-based organizations that charter over two-thirds of the packs, and the troops,” the organization explained.
On AT&T’s website, Stephenson’s advocacy for homosexuality is not highlighted. There, the company talks about his career beginnings in Oklahoma and his rise through the ranks.
It also lauds him for his philanthropy with AT&T money – through the company’s Aspire program for students. It explains he also invested in the “It Can Wait” campaign to encourage people not to text while driving.
The “social news” organization BuzzFeed specifically identified several individuals, in addition, to Stephenson and Turley, who are advocating for homosexuality around the campfires.
Listed are James Dale, the original protester who was dismissed from his scouting duties, sued the Scouts, and then lost in the Supreme Court. Another is Jennifer Tyrrell, who was removed as a Scout leader for her lesbian lifestyle. A third is Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, and fourth is homosexual actor George Takei.
Also listed are Burke Stansbury, who protested the Scouts’ policy by returning his badges; Eric Jones, who lost a job with the Scouts for his open homosexuality; Tim Griffin, who was removed from his Scout job for his open homosexuality; Greg Bourke, who was fired as a Scoutmaster over the issue; and Ryan Andresen, who was expelled from the organization.
Others are Matthew Kimball, who left his troop; Derek Nancy, who posted a YouTube video about his homosexuality; Will Oliver, who ran a petition on the issue; Barack Obama; and Sens. Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley.
Among critics of the idea was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and wrote a book about the organization. Another, Jonathan Saenz, president of the Austin-based Texas Values, pointed out that 70 percent of Boy Scout groups are affiliated with churches.
“A lot of those faith groups do not agree with the homosexual lifestyle and will pull out,” he warned.
It had been just months since the organization formally reaffirmed its traditional position of banning homosexuals from the ranks, a decision that was announced following a two-year review.
And just a decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of the Scout organization to exclude homosexuals – because the lifestyle choice violated the core values of the private organization.
“A core conviction is a core conviction. A core conviction of the Boy Scouts for over 100 years has been defining being ‘morally straight’ as heterosexual,” Richard Land said. “Once you abandon that, you’ve lost your legal protection. Once you say it’s a local option, it’s obviously not a core conviction anymore and you open yourself to litigation.”
He is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The decision was guaranteed to lose the organization membership and leadership. A fourth-generation Boy Scout leader, recipient of an award for distinguished leadership and a member of the Southern Region committee as well as an ad hoc member of the national committee, said he’s one of many Scout leaders who will not continue with the organization.
Steve Elwart of Vicksburg, Miss., a 30-year veteran of Scouting and frequent contributor to WND, explained he would resign rather than work under the new policy, because by remaining, he would be “giving tacit agreement to the policy.”
The Boy Scouts of America, a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, was founded in 1910.
“I’m afraid that if the BSA goes down this road, they may preserve some big money, but they will lose not only small contributors but the efforts of thousands of volunteers that do not want to be part of this,” Elwart said.
“They’ll end up with a lot of money but no program.”
As WND reported, the BSA’s new policy proposal coincides with a sudden drop in major corporate funding that began last summer after a “gay”-rights blogger for the Huffington Post published a collaborative report that named the donors and chastised them for violating their own policy of not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Scouts count more than 2.7 million members and more than 1 million volunteers. The Scout troops, which are hosted by churches and other organizations, are organized into districts, based on geographic boundaries, which in turn are grouped into councils. The councils form 26 areas nationwide, which are further grouped into four regions. The BSA national council sets policy, offers national awards and organizes national jamborees.
Elwart said, based on his extensive communication in the past week with Scout leaders nationwide, the BSA national council’s proposal has created a firestorm
“Overwhelmingly, they do not like the change,” Elwart said of his colleagues. “A majority of them are considering retiring.”
It was Deron Smith, a Scout spokesman, speaking for the national council, who said that under the change BSA members and parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families.”
But last July, an 11-member committee of professional scout executives and adult volunteers unanimously concluded after a two-year study that the policy of barring homosexuals should be maintained. The executive committee of the BSA national executive board then announced that while not all board members “may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization and supports it for the BSA.”
Elwart thinks the proposed policy’s stipulation that each local unit can decide for themselves whether or not they want to receive homosexuals is not feasible.
“They’re trying to parse their words now,” he said.
The policy runs into trouble, Elwart argued, when local units come together for events such as summer camps and jamborees.
“For parents, even if their unit does not want homosexual Scouts in leadership or in the unit, they would have to isolate themselves from the rest of the Scouting program,” he said.
One practical issue, he said, would be the fact that Scout rules allow married leaders to share a tent on outings.
“Would we now let homosexual members share a tent?” he asked.
Elwart and his wife are both recipients of the Silver Beaver award, the highest Scouting honor given by councils. In the Southern Region, Elwart once served as area training chairman, which encompasses youth protection.
WND previously reported that major corporations that have donated to the Boy Scouts of America in recent years largely were quiet ahead of the decision.
In 2010, the latest year for which figures are available, the top donors to the Scouts, listed in descending order according to amount, were Intel, Emerson, Verizon, 3M, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Pfizer, Valero, UPS, U.S. Bank, Eli Lilly and Co., GE, Monsanto, Medtronic, PNC, Nationwide, Abbott, General Mills, Alcoa, Caterpillar, Illinois Tool Works, Allstate and Dow Chemical.
But since September, Intel, UPS and Merck are among the corporations that have declared they have stopping funding the BSA.
The homosexual-rights group Scouting for All lists some of the corporations that have refused to fund the BSA’s national organization. They include IBM, Levi Strauss and Company, J.P. Morgan, American Airlines, Medtronic, Portland General Gas and Electric, Hewlett Packard, Textron, Fleet Bank, CVS/Pharmacy Stores and Carrier Corp.
At the time of the September report, shipping giant UPS, which gave $167,000 to the Scouts in 2010, insisted the “gay” policy would not impact its donations. But after a petition drive that month by another homosexual-rights group, Scouts for Equality, UPS changed its mind.
Scouts for Equality then listed UPS, Merck and Intel as corporate sponsors. Among the public figures who support the group’s aims, along with President Obama, are 2012 Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney and Washington state Republican gubernatorial nominee Rob McKenna.
Scouting for All also has a list of companies that donate to national or local Boy Scout councils and/or having a matching gifts program for employees who donate to the Scouts. But the list is not up-to-date, as it includes UPS. Scouting for All urges supporters to boycott the listed companies.
Ahead of the vote, UPS spokeswoman Kristen A. Petrella, the international public relations manager, told WND UPS had no comment.
And General Mills spokeswoman Kris Patton told WND, also ahead of the decision, her corporation’s foundation funds local Boy Scout organizations that sign an “affirmation of nondiscrimination” but does not contribute to the national organization.
“As a longstanding practice, organizations we support must sign an affirmation of nondiscrimination as a standard part of our grant-making process.”
Jim Nawrocki, a vice president for communications for the Wells Fargo Foundation, told WND the banking giant was aware of the Wednesday vote but had no comment.
Meanwhile, two prominent board members – including an adviser to the Obama White House – had stated their intent to change the policy, Stephenson, who is next in line to become BSA national chairman, and Turley of Ernst & Young.
Last June, Turley vowed he “will work from within to seek a change” to the BSA policy.
“As I have done in leading Ernst & Young to being a most inclusive organization, I intend to continue to work from within the BSA board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress,” Turley said.
Stephenson has been praised for publicly opposing the Boy Scouts’ policy and explained he would remain on the board, which he’s in line to lead in 2014, because he could have more influence.
Turley was nominated to President Obama’s Export Council in 2010, and has been a promoter of Obama’s economic policy.
Turley and his wife, Lynne, were guests at a state dinner hosted by Obama for British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House last March.
In a Super Bowl pre-game interview Sunday with CBS’s Scott Pelley, Obama affirmed the Boy Scouts should be open to “gays.”
“I think that my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life,” he said.
Obama called the Scouts “a great institution” that is “promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives, and I think nobody should be barred from that.”