A campaign by “gay” activists to open the Boy Scouts of America to homosexuals has stalled, with a decision today by the BSA executive committee meeting in Irving, Texas, to not vote on the proposed policy change until May.
The vote to open the ranks to homosexuality was expected today after the organization said last week it was considering a new policy that would allow local Scouting organizations to establish their own rules for membership. But in the meantime, a tidal wave of opposition surged.
The BSA said in a statement today: “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.”
The board in a closed-door meeting, reportedly has decided to form a task force on the issue.
Among critics of the policy change was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and wrote a book about the Scouts. 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.
Only last year, the organization formally reaffirmed its traditional position of banning homosexuals from the ranks. The announcement followed a two-year review of the policy.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of the organization to exclude homosexuals, because homosexual behavior violates the core values of the private organization.
Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, emphasized 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,” he 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.”
A change in policy 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, explained to WND that with a model program already in place to protect Scouts from sexual abuse.”
Elwart, a 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.”
Last week, Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith, speaking for the national council, said that under the proposed 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.
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 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 – have stated their intent to change the policy, Randall Stephenson of AT&T, who is next in line to become BSA national chairman, and James 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.”