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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 8, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 6
Boy Scouts postpone decision on Gays
Section One
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Boy Scouts postpone decision on Gays

Poll shows most people favor inclusion

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Boy Scouts of America officials announced on February 6 that they will delay a decision on whether to end their ban on Gay Scouts and adult Scout leaders, but a poll released the same day indicates most Americans have already made up their minds on the issue.

According to the new Quinnipiac poll, 55% of Americans believe the Scouts should drop their discriminatory policy, while only 33% say they should keep it.

As might be expected, women supported Gay Scouts by a wider margin - 61% to 27%, compared to a 49%-39% margin among men. Support for Gay Scouts among white Catholics was 63% to 25%, and among white Protestants it was 44% to 41%. However, white Protestants who described themselves as 'evangelical' opposed Gay Scouts by a margin of 56% to 33%.

In their February 6 statement, the Boy Scouts acknowledged they had received 'an outpouring of feedback from the American public,' but said they had to postpone a decision.

'After careful consideration,' the statement said, '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.'

OBAMA URGES CHANGE
President Obama weighed in on the issue in a February 3 speech in Las Vegas.

'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.

'The Scouts are a great institution that are 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.'

However, White House spokesman Jay Carney said February 6 that the administration had no comment on the Scouts' decision to postpone its decision.

'You know that the president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century,' Carney said.

'He also, as you know, opposes discrimination in all forms. And as such, believes - as he said just on Sunday - that Gay Americans ought to be able to participate in the Boy Scouts. But in terms of the process of their evaluation of their policies, I don't have a comment.'

LGBT ACTIVISTS REACT
The postponement disappointed some LGBT activists who hoped the organization would end its ban on Gay Scouts. Eagle Scout and LGBT activist Zach Wahls, the son of two Lesbian mothers, accused the Boy Scouts of 'caving' to right-wing interests.

'By postponing this decision, the BSA has caved to those who argue that their anti-Gay attitudes trump basic Scouting values of kindness, courtesy, and bravery. Scouting was built on a foundation of respect and dignity. Today, the BSA cracked that foundation,' he said.

HRC President Chad Griffin called on the Scouts' organization to act on Gay rights.

'Every day that the Boy Scouts of America delay action is another day that discrimination prevails,' Griffin said.

'Now is the time for action. Young Americans, Gay and straight, are hurt by the inaction associated with today's news. The BSA leadership should end this awful policy once and for all, and open the proud tradition of Scouting to all.'

WERE MORMONS INVOLVED?
CNN anchor Erin Burnett suggested that the Mormon Church may have influenced the Boy Scouts to put off a final decision. Mormons represent 15% of the 2.7 million registered Boy Scouts, the largest single group. A decision by the church to withdraw its support could be a devastating blow to the Scouts.

Mormon leaders, meanwhile, tried to quiet speculation about their role in the controversy.

'We believe [Boy Scouts of America] has acted wisely in delaying a vote on this policy issue until the implications can be more carefully evaluated,' they said in a statement.

'We caution others not to speculate about our position or to assume that individual Latter-day Saints inside or outside the Scouting movement speak for the Church. Neither has the Church launched any campaign either to effect or prevent a policy change.'

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