Boy Scouts Release Statement on Gay Ban Vote Delay

The Boy Scouts released this statement on the gay ban vote, which has been postponed until May:

BsaFor 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing it's youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.

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.

To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting's membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers' work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013.

Tell us your theories about what's behind the delay in the comments.

UPDATE: More reactions, via GLAAD.

"An organization that serves youth and chooses to intentionally hurt dedicated young people and hardworking parents not only flies in the face of American principles, but the principles of being a Boy Scout," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "The Boy Scouts of America is choosing to ignore the cries of millions, including religious institutions, current scouting families, and corporate sponsors, but these cries will not be silenced. We're living in a culture where hurting young gay people because of who they are is unpopular and discriminatory. They had the chance to end the pain this ban has caused to young people and parents, they chose to extend the pain."
 
Jennifer Tyrrell, a gay mom from Bridgeport, Ohio, who was ousted as the leader of her son’s Cub Scout Pack in April 2012 because of her sexual orientation, helped spark a national movement calling on the Boy Scouts to change its policy. Tyrrell, with the support of GLAAD, started a petition on Change.org that rallied hundreds of thousands urging the Boy Scouts to welcome gay Scouts and leaders.
 
"A scout is supposed to be brave, and the Boy Scouts failed to be brave today," said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell. "The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they've failed us yet again. No parent should have to loo their child in the eye and explain that the Boy Scouts don't want us. Our fight will continue and we will continue to educate donors and supporters of the Boy Scouts about the effects of their anti-gay policy.”
 
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of the organization Scouts for Equality, said that today’s news was simply not a strong enough gesture from the Boy Scouts of America to ensure that they take discrimination seriously.
 
"This is an abdication of responsibility," said straight Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the founder of Scouts for Equality. "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."
 
"On Monday, the Boy Scouts of America received 1.4 million petition signatures urging the organization to end its national policy banning gay youth and parents, and today, those voices went unanswered," said Change.org Senior Campaign Manager Mark Anthony Dingbaum. "With 9 national campaigns and over 50 local campaigns already launched on Change.org calling for an end to the BSA's policy, how many more stories of gay youth and leaders, like Ryan Andresen and Jen Tyrrell, need to surface before the Boy Scouts decide to end this policy?"

Comments

  1. Mike says

    Translation: The religious right has been complaining that this moved too fast over the last two weeks and they haven’t had a chance to mount an effective campaign.

  2. joe says

    Duh, the 1,400 people voting on the issue in May will be a public way of them saying “See! Our elected leadership representatives are against the change. Nothing we can do at this point!”

    Since the majority of troops are sponsored by religious organizations, there shouldn’t be any doubt how the vote will go. A vote by 1,400 people has a lot more “legitimacy” in the eyes of the public than a secretive small national committee. The Executive Board punted, plain and simple.

  3. Mike in Houston says

    I think they were convinced that if they did this split the baby policy that they would see huge lawsuits trying to strip away properties by splinter scouting groups…

    And let’s not forget that the Supremes are set to rule on marriage equality – and if they made this move before the hearings it would be viewed as another sign that gays & lesbians should have equal rights.

  4. Jacques says

    Putting it to a vote of the 1,400 council members sounds a lot like “let’s let the people decide” on marriage equality. It’s the way legislatures, and now the BSA, weasel out of making a tough decision.

    BTW, that comment about the “complexity of the issue” is another weasel phrase. It ain’t that complicated, boys.

  5. Dave P says

    The Boy Scouts are caving to pressure from the Mormon Church. The Mormons have been all over the news here in Salt Lake complaining that since they are the single biggest faith-based sponsor of scouting (420,000 scouts), it’s unfair that they don’t get a say. And while the Mormons are claiming to “warm” to gays and marriage equality, the Mormon Church has filed a brief with the Supreme Court (as has the Utah Attorney General) supporting Prop 8 and DOMA. So they are exerting their political pressure to keep gays from the Boy Scouts and continuing to push for bans on marriage equality.

  6. Trev says

    Rock and a hard place. If they cave to the haters, they’ll be seen as moving backward and lose more corporate cash. If they do the right thing, they’ll lose support and membership from the haters. Either way, they’re going to take a huge hit. I think they’re just trying to wait until the heat is off.

    Good luck with that.

  7. Joe in SF says

    They are buying time because they are stuck between a rock and hard place: 70% of their chapters are religious-backed and the majority of Americans feel that their policy is wrong and the numbers enrolled in Scouting are dwindling.

  8. says

    the focus needs to get back to the reality that it’s discriminating against gay SCOUTS – the bigoted-right keeps turning it only to “gay leaders who want to teach your children how to have anal sex”, or something preposterous like that.

    it isn’t even about allowing gays INTO the scouts – it’s about allowing gay scouts to Come Out.

  9. says

    My theory: The BSA is letting this issue hang in the air in order to scare the homophobic @$$holes that fund them into throwing more money at them. There’s no valid reason to delay the vote other than to blackmail the rich Christo-facists into opening their wallets wider.

  10. JH says

    The move is all about money. They know that if they make a move without the approval of the Mormon Church, they’ll lose so much funding that it could potentially destroy the organization.

    By delaying it, they’re going to let the issue play out in the court of public opinion and use that to gauge how they should vote. If they decide to overturn it right now, they’ll risk the Mormons running out on them. But if this is debated in the news over the next few months and the BSA sees that the public opinion is going vastly in favor of allowing gays in scouting, they’ll probably use that to convince the Mormon Church to go ahead with the idea of segregated troops.

    It’s up to us to make sure that this issue stays in the news and in public conversations.

  11. Anon says

    While they are “considering” they should change their name from BSA to PCB:

    Pathetic Cowardly Bigots.

    I’m sure they feel that they are in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

    They were only going to vote that INDIVIDUAL troops could admit gays if they wished.

    It’s not like they were going to allow gays in the organization nationwide. In my book, that was too little, too late.

  12. Blake says

    Is there a merit badge for wussing out? Even if this gets ugly, there might be silver lining. Corporate sponsors will continue to dump the BSA as long as this stands, and the church backers will be pressured to make up the difference financially. Less money left to flowing to NOM and the like.

  13. Jean says

    Most Americans today do not agree that homosexuals are evil. This includes a great many religious parents who understand the Bible to mean yes to welcoming gay boys. They do no believe that it is a Christian ideal to make a young boy feel bad about himself because he is different. Many of these parents, and or their children, have voted with their feet not to join the scouts for this reason.

    55 percent of Americans think the Boy Scouts should allow gay members, and only 33 percent say the group should not.

    The Boy Scouts used to discriminate against African American boys and youths and ended that completely only in 1974. The same narrow minded religious point of
    view justified that.

    The Scouts were correct; they should reconsider their entire discriminatory policy to be inclusive and helpful to all boys in every part of the country.

  14. Francis says

    IMO, the BSA actually is looking to change the policy and if they weren’t they would have just ended the issue today and said no again. At least at the very top, there is some new leadership that has come in the last years who are against the ban. I think they know a lot of individual scout troops, and that public opinion, is against this ban. They’re losing membership. They’re losing corporate funding.

    But did they wuss out? Of course. They DON’T know what to do here. If anything the BSA is panicking. What do they do, piss off the fundies, or piss off everyone else? They’ve turned this into a popular vote situation. Now they’re going to measure what decision will cause them the most damage. If anything they’re looking to see how much money they’re going to lose from the churches if they eliminate the policy and how and if they can recoup any of it afterward. So in my eyes, they’re laying groundwork for whatever decision is made and the backlash that the organization will receive. It is a pretty complex situation in the sense that it’s a decision that will change the direction the BSA goes in our country. Either they will continue to slide into fringe group category or they’ll become more palatable to everyday parents who don’t want to put their kids in a group that promotes hate with this policy.

    Honestly, by waiting until May, the pressure to end the ban is only going to increase, especially since by May, DOMA/Prop 8 will have already gone through oral arguments in SCOTUS and people will be fired up. We have to continue making a fuss of this and not let this die. We have to email email email and pressure corporations to end business with BSA. This is for the kids. This is crucial for us as a community.

  15. terry says

    the scouts want to be a conservative religious organization and align themselves with hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. Corporate sponsors and individuals should cut them loose. Like other hate groups they should be isolated. Their tax-exempt status should also be revoked. Otherwise we all help fund their discrimitory practices that force kids who want to enjoy the fun of scouting with their friends to lie every day and feel inferior.

  16. saunakarhu says

    For a group that is basically all male, they surely don’t have balls. And as to the Morons excuse me Mormons (and others) writing legal briefs, they should keep their stucky fingers out of civil issues or then lose their tax free status.

  17. KsBrian says

    Sad, really really sad that organizations of a supposedly Democratic Society bows to hate mongers and the religious cults. Revoke, Revoke non-profit status FOR ALL Religions.

  18. rdiac says

    As others have pointed out, revoking tax exempt status for the LDS and RCC for political or undeclared lobbyist financing may have been their major threat. I suspect this three month breathing space has something to do with manoeuvring around that, and this might be the best time to lodge a complaint with the IRS. In three months they may have figured out how to hide the money trail.

    By (my) odds, 6-8% of 7 year olds entering the BSA are subsequently going to be subject to child abuse – being attacked about their sexuality during formative years. This is serious.

    So, can anyone lodge a complaint with the IRS or should it just be everyone?

  19. MikeH says

    Well, Scouting has definitely jumped the shark. Instead of being in the middle as far as accepting of equality, looks like they’re going to be in the very last group, and be dragged screaming and kicking under threat of loss of corporate sponsorship. Look how long it took for the Mormon church to accept black people as a guide.

  20. ZT says

    The Boy Scouts used to discriminate against African American boys and youths and ended that completely only in 1974.

    It wasn’t until 1978 that the Mormon Church allowed African Americans to hold their priesthood. They didn’t believe in Adam’s transgression (ie all people are going to hell for what Adam did unless they are baptized) yet they believed that ‘blacks’ were accountable for the sins of their people more recently. The Mormon church is calling the shots on this one. And they are going to look more and more ridiculous the longer they hold out. Let gays into the Scouts.

  21. Homo Momo No Mo says

    My grandfather was awarded the Silver Beaver from the Boy Scouts back in the 1940’s. It’s their highest recognition given to those who provide selflessly their time, energy and service to the BSA. Helping it grow and instil solid life affirming values that stay with them for life. He believed in the organization so much that he gave much of his personal time starting up new troops all over Oregon. He was an Eagle Scout. My father and uncles were Eagle Scouts, as were my brothers and I. I know for a fact that if he were still here, he would be ashamed of the organization that he much of his life nurturing. Yes Duty to God is important, but we are also taught Duty to our country and citizenship in the world. Its hardly a coincidence that they have decided to postpone until May. DOMA and Prop 8 will be on trial. If they can piggy back on No vote for the LGBT community then they won’t seem like the big bad, because they were just following the law of the land. Although as a private entity, they right their own bylaws and codes to live by. The LDS church has made it very clear that they are not commenting publicly, however their Friends of Scouting fund raising fell significantly short from years past. The church is feeling pressure from its membership to be inclusive and understanding. Its common knowledge though that the church filed a claim with the Supreme Court because of their involvement in Prop 8 fundraising. Their tax exempt status could be in question which could hurt them and Mitt Romney’s tax shelters. Its flat out cowardice. They CANT make a decision until the courts rule so they then can see where they want to stand… with or without their financial backbone pushing on how they are going to vote.

  22. Erick says

    Well let them go ahead and let gays in scouts, but don’t get mad if and when the Catholic and Mormon churches drop their backing to the point of the BSA virtually crumbling. If they keep the policy, they lose corporate sponsors…if they do away with it, they lose their fundamental support.

    Either way, the gay community has basically destroyed the scouts by forcing this issue, and my guess won’t make up the difference if the BSA sides with them and the lose their religious backing (money.) If like a pro-lifer fighting tooth and nail to stop a woman from being able to have an abortion and not doing anything to support the baby they made her have.

  23. anon says

    “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

    “Honest” is missing, however.

  24. Robert Seth Vorisek says

    Money, pure and simple. Money=influence=power=Nirvana(to them)(…and not the band). Piss off the LDS and, besides the Federal boost that keeps hem solvent, this is one of their major sources of influence…uhm, I mean funding.

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