The president of the Boy Scouts of America and former secretary of defense Robert M. Gates said today that the ban on gay adult leaders in the organization is not sustainable.
Gates made the remarks during the Boy Scouts’ annual national meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, and added that the practice could hurt the organization by opening them up to employment-discrimination lawsuits and divide the organization from within.
He said that the Boy Scouts must change or they might be forced to by order of the court. “We must all understand that this will probably happen sooner rather than later,” he said. Gates also cited the shifting political and social opinion on LGBTQ-identified people - several councils have openly defied the national ban on gay leaders.
At the May 2013 national meeting, 61 percent of the Boy Scouts of America’s council voted to end the ban on gay children and teens, which barred them from being in the organization.
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Gates added that troops should be free to set their own guidelines - religious organizations sponsor the majority of troops.
Gates concluded that “the one thing we cannot do is put our heads in the sand and pretend this challenge will go away or abate… [Boy Scouts can] act on our own or we can be forced to act.”
In a press release, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality, praised the move. “Dr. Gates has built his reputation on straight talk and tough decisions, and I’m glad he’s fully endorsing a re-evaluation of the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults,” he said.
“It seems like the Boy Scouts will continue an internal dialogue about the subject and that a change within the next year or two is imminent.”