(CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR) Former Defense Secretary and Eagle Scout Robert Gates took the helm of the Boy Scouts of America Saturday, and right away faced the inevitable question: What does the man who worked to allow gay soldiers in the US military think about the scouts’ ban on gay leaders?

Mr. Gates hardly demurred. Had he taken leadership before 1,500 Boy Scout volunteers voted last year to allow gay Boy Scouts, but not gay Boy Scout leaders, he would have pushed the group to end the ban, he said in an AP interview.

Defense Secretary under Presidents Bush and Obama, Gates – known for not shying from tough subjects that might offend colleagues – presided over ending the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy on homosexual troops.

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