"Boy Scouts’ ban on gay leaders must end, its president says; Gates asserts courts will act if group does not" by Erik Eckholm New York Times May 22, 2015
NEW YORK — Robert M. Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America and former secretary of defense, called on Thursday to end the Scouts’ blanket ban on gay adult leaders, warning the group’s executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.”
Speaking at the Boy Scouts’ annual national meeting in Atlanta, Gates said cascading events — including potential employment-discrimination lawsuits and the impending Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, as well as mounting internal dissent over the exclusionary policy — had led him to conclude that the current rules “cannot be sustained.”
If the Boy Scouts do not change on their own, he said, the courts are likely to force them to, and “we must all understand that this will probably happen sooner rather than later.”
In a nod to the religious organizations that sponsor a majority of local Scout troops, he said they should be free to set guidelines for leaders.
“I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs,” he said, adding, “I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”
In his speech, Gates, who is also a former director of the CIA, evoked his experience as defense secretary. In that role, he helped end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — which was similar to the current Boy Scouts policy toward Scout leaders — and discrimination against gay men and lesbians. He recalled that in 2010, a federal judge declared the military’s policy to be illegal.
“Only a stay granted by the appeals court — granted, I believe, mainly because we were in the process of changing the law — prevented dramatic disruption in the armed forces,” he said Thursday.
“If we wait for the courts to act,” he continued, “we could end up with a broad ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard,” such as the belief in a duty to God and the goal of specifically serving the needs of boys.
Gates took on the job as president in May 2014, for a two-year term. He said he had originally intended to put off consideration of the divisive issue of gay adults, allowing the Boy Scouts a respite after a contentious meeting in 2013 at which the organization decided to permit openly gay youths to belong to it.
He said that he had not yet made a formal proposal to the national board but that it must act soon to head off possible disaster. Though his position is voluntary, Gates, an Eagle Scout, wields enormous power in the Boy Scouts, which have been struggling to stem a shrinking membership for decades.
The treatment of gay men and boys has been a source of wrenching debate. Conservative religious groups that sponsor many Scout troops, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Roman Catholic Church, and some evangelical churches, opposed the participation of openly gay members while local leaders in more liberal regions have called for an end to discrimination....
You can check the schedule to see who is leading your troop.
Also see: Co-author disavows highly publicized study on public opinion and same-sex marriage