During a reception on Tuesday evening, United States Attorney General Eric Holder, a featured speaker of the night and supporter of equality for LGBT people, addressed the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay adults and leaders.
Although the Boy Scouts lifted its ban on young gay members earlier this year, adults remain barred from participating as leaders and mentors if they come out as gay, which is a policy Holder equated to the U.S. military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. He remarked:
"Unfortunately, the continuation of a policy that discriminates against gay adult leaders - by an iconic American institution - only preserves and perpetuates the worst kind of stereotypes. Like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," it's a relic of an age of prejudice and insufficient understanding. Today, courageous lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals routinely put their lives on the line as members of America's armed services. They inspire us, they protect us, and they defend us. And if these men and women are fit for military service, then surely they are fit to mentor, to teach, and to serve as role models for the leaders of future generations."
Holder made no mention of taking any legal action against the Boy Scouts. In the 2000 Supreme Court case Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, it was decided that the Boy Scouts, as a private entity, has the right to exclude individuals from membership. However, Holder stated:
"For the Department of Justice, and for me personally, the fight for civil rights and LGBT equality remains a top priority. We will continue to rely on Lambda Legal's steadfast commitment to advancing equality for LGBT people and those living with HIV."
GLAAD and Scouts for Equality joined openly gay Eagle Scout Pascal Tessier, ousted gay Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath, and local Scouts to deliver more than 125,000 Change.org petition signatures to the Amazon headquarters in Seattle, calling on the company to live up to its own policies and suspend its support of the Boy Scouts.
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s Change.org petition has attracted more than 350,000 signatures
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