The Boy Scouts of America voted to lift the ban on openly gay Scouts on Thursday afternoon. Their rule forbidding gay scoutmasters and adult leaders is still in place.
The decision is not at all surprising. The Scouts faced extreme pressure from groups like GLAAD and Scouts for Equality to lift the ban.
Scouts for Equality proved a formidable fighting force in the battle against the ban. The group, founded by 21-year-old Zach Wahls, the son of two lesbian mothers, has 15,000 members, including 20 full-time employees dedicated to the cause. Scouts for Equality zeroed in on 200 councils and even hired Global Strategy Group, a communications firm, to drill in its message.
GLAAD aided Scouts for Equality in its cause by helping to gather thousands of signatures via Change.com. It also focused on churches and faith communities, which represent the largest group of donors to the BSA, some of whom the organization risks losing.
In addition, cases like that of Ryan Andresen helped to publicize the cause. Andresen, an openly gay teen from Moraga, Calif., applied to become an Eagle Scout but was rejected solely because of his sexual orientation. Andresen’s case became national news and he even appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show.
The Family Research Council (FRC) led the defense of the ban. Senior Vice President Rob Schwarzwalder headed the Boy Scout task force dedicated to upholding the policy.
“People who join Scouts know what the rules are. They also know there are many alternative organizations for their boys in which prohibitions against homosexuality do not exist,” Schwarzwalder said in a statement on the Family Research Council website. “Just don’t ask the 2.7 million boys in the BSA… to compromise their moral convictions and permanently alter the very nature of Scouting.”
In retrospect, it seemed fairly inevitable that the BSA would vote to end the ban. The dedication of gay activists to the cause was enormous. With statements like “they might as well take America out of their name,” by GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro, it was easy to see how so many people were won over to the cause.
It’s a shame to think that this decision by the BSA might be due to the immense pressure that mounted before the vote. I hope that the 61 percent of the 1,400 members of the BSA that voted honestly believed they were doing what was best for the organization and the boys, and didn’t merely feel that they had to cave to gay rights activists.
Either way, this is far from over. With the ban on gay Scouts gone, expect gay Scoutmasters to be next on the agenda for LGBT activists.
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