By ARI EZRA WALDMAN
The headline, "Boy Scouts Move to Allow Gay Members," read with such promise. Including gays in the Boy Scouts has been a goal of our community for decades, most notably since James Dale challenged the Scouts' discriminatory policies in the 1990s. A sharply divided Supreme Court rejected Mr. Dale's challenge, but more recently, an avalanche of factors -- demographic shifts; concerted activism from Boy Scouts themselves and their families; rapid change in the acceptance of gays and marriage equality; and, strong pro-equality support from President Obama, his Democratic allies, and even some Republicans, to name just a few -- has forced the Boy Scouts to reconsider its exclusionary policies. Last week, the Scouts did change its policy... for the worse.
"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," say the Scouts. This change comes after reminding us that "youth are still developing, learning about themselves and who they are, developing their sense of right and wrong, and understanding their duty to God to live a moral life." The youth proviso means that gay kids are ok, but gay men cannot serve in any leadership positions. So, if you stick around the Scouts for long enough and refuse to "understand [your] duty to God to live a moral life," i.e., stop being gay, you're out of the Scouts.
Allowing gay scouts seems like a step forward. But the exclusive focus on gay youth proves that this "step forward" is anything but a good thing. In fact, it's the worst possible result and shows the Scouts' true anti-gay colors. Gay kids are being let into the Boy Scouts not because the Scouts recognize the inherent equality of all American youth, but rather to more directly implement the organization's anti-gay dogma. This begs the question: Is the new Boy Scout policy both unjust and unconstitutional? The Scouts' policy was always unconstitutional, despite what the Supreme Court has said. Let's discuss why.
Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...
Follow me at @ariezrawaldman.