Boy Scouts delay decision on lifting ban on gay scouts; Florida conservative pleased

02/06/13 Janelle Irwin
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Today, the Boy Scouts of America's national executive board delayed a decision on whether to lift its longstanding ban on gay scouts and leaders.

Instead, the organization will take action at its national meeting in May.

LGBT activists want the board to allow openly gay scouts and leaders to participate. The effort is supported by President Barack Obama.

But conservative groups are pushing for the organization to uphold its longstanding ban. John Stemberger is president of the Florida Family Policy Council.

"Well I think that while it's not a final victory it's certainly a strategic victory to slow it down. One thing in my experience that gay identified activists have done is to try an ambush and the timing surprise attacks so this is a good thing with less than a week's notice given to the board member's and the public about this. After the scouts had been through a two year study and determined that open homosexuality was not a good thing in scouting they all of a sudden tabled the matter again for a decision and apparently had what appeared to be a majority vote on the board when that was done."

In an editorial to USA Today you wrote that two men snuggling by a campfire on a scouting trip is inappropriate, why not then just propose a rule that would pertain to all couples, regardless of their orientation, when it comes to their behavior when leading these types of outings?

"Well, really, it's a misnomer to think there are no gays or people with same sex attraction in scouting currently. I know several adults and scouts who have a same sex attraction. The difference between the old and new policy is that the policy right now is you just have to be discreet, you have to be personal and private about it. You have to just show some discretion. It does not permit for kind of open, loud and proud homosexuality which we kind of see in much of our culture. So there's no check box on the form saying gay or straight when you join. Anyone can join as long as your affirm in the values of the organization."

Is this something that you would compare to a 'don't ask, don't tell' type of scenario?

"No, the main reason is that there are children involved. There's not adults here and children are very much influenced as you know. These are matters regarding human sexuality that we think are better reserved for parents not in this context especially when you have overnight camping situations then it's just kind of parents are not always there depending on the age of the child and the programs."

Lastly, what would you ultimately like to see happen with this?

"I think the Scouts should just affirm the current policy. It allows all men to be a part irrespective of their orientation. Just requires folks to be discreet as respects their sexuality and I think that's entirely appropriate. The office would never state the program. In Canada in 1998 this same type of a change was made and within 5 years the entire program membership was cut by 50 percent. That program in our northern neighbor country is still hemorrhaging now from that decision. It just changes the whole dynamic. It undermines the trust that parents have in the program and makes it a risky proposition for them instead of something that they feel very safe and secure about."

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