Boy Scout leaders, scouts and parents from across the nation have formed a coalition to oppose a proposed change to the iconic organization’s century-old policy that would allow openly homosexual members.
The coalition, which includes scoutmasters and Eagle Scouts, vows to “keep sex and politics out of Scouting” through rallies, petitions and appearances at Boy Scouts of America meetings ahead of the National Council’s vote in May.
An inaugural press conference is planned for Saturday in Orlando, Fla., immediately after one of the largest local Boy Scout councils hosts a high-profile town hall meeting.
The Central Florida Council’s meeting will be attended by BSA CEO Wayne Brock and National Commissioner Tico Perez.
The new coalition says its members “affirm Scouting’s timeless values and will work to keep open homosexuality out of the Boy Scouts.”
It wants to “influence the resolution committee, the BSA voting delegates and the general public regarding the legal, social, political and financial implications of changing the membership policy.”
BSA lawyers are preparing a draft resolution of the policy change for release April 22. The BSA National Council will vote on it during its meetings May 22-23 in Grapevine, Texas.
Last month, BSA leaders instructed committees to “further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns.”
The coalition plans to gather parents, Scout leaders, major donors and Eagle Scouts in all 50 states who support the current membership policy.
The press conference is scheduled for noon on the sidewalk area outside of the Bob Carr Auditorium at 401 West Livingston St. in Orlando. In case of rain, it will be held at the Sheraton Orlando Downtown Hotel, across the street, at 400 West Livingston St.
Last month, the BSA executive committee, at its meeting in Irving, Texas, decided to delay the vote on the proposed policy change until May amid strong opposition. The decision will now be in the hands of the larger National Council, which has as estimated 1,400 voting members.
The proposal would allow local Scouting organizations to establish their own rules for membership.
The BSA explained its decision to delay the vote: “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.”
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.
President Obama has spoken out in favor of allowing homosexuals, asserting they “should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life.”
Last year, the BSA formally reaffirmed its traditional position of banning homosexuals from the ranks after 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.
As WND reported, a change in policy is guaranteed to lose the organization membership and leadership, as many have vowed to resign rather than work under the new policy.
WND also reported the BSA’s 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.