Earlier this year, GLAAD released video footage from 1994 of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney saying: "I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation."
According to an Associated Press article that ran today, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul confirmed that “this remains Romney’s position today.” Romney is a former member of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board. David Crary of the AP also notes that President Barack Obama has made no public statement thus far about the Scouts' policy -- a notable void given that he is a staunch supporter of gay rights and also, like all presidents of the past 100 years, is the Boy Scouts' honorary president."
Given Romney’s belief that LGBT people should not be discriminated against in the Boy Scouts of America, it makes us wonder why he is on record as wanting to deny same-sex couples the opportunity to marry and take care of their families and the person they love.
Still, Romney joins hundreds of thousands of Americans including politicians, celebrities, and corporate leaders from AT&T and Ernst & Young (who also happen to be board members of the BSA) in speaking out against the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on LGBT scouts and scout leaders. A spokesperson for Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna also said last month that the candidate, who is the state attorney general and an Eagle Scout, disagrees with the Boy Scouts' recent decision to maintain its ban on gay scouts and LGBT leaders.
David Crary of the Associated Press also noted that “beyond the political arena, the Boy Scouts' stance was bemoaned in various newspaper editorials, ranging from The New York Times to the Iowa City Press-Citizen to the Salina Journal in Kansas.”
GLAAD is compiling stories of Eagle Scouts who have mailed in their medals because of the ban, opting instead to support their LGBT friends and family members. You can read stories and letters from some of those Eagle Scouts here.
Local troops are also voicing disagreement with the ban and opting to allow gay scouts and scout leaders including Minnesota’s Northern Star Council and Troop 729 in New York. In Sacramento, California ten staff members resigned from a Boy Scouts camp last month in a show of support for fellow staffer and Eagle Scout Tim Griffin, who was fired because he’s gay. Griffin had served at the camp for eight years.
Following a BSA secret committee's decision last month to keep the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scouts and scout leaders, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls and founder of Scouts For Equality launched a Change.org petition urging the Boy Scouts to allow its board members to vote to end the ban. In an op-ed in The Advocate, Zach wrote:
Secret committees of 11 people do not and will not speak for more than 3 million scouts. Though the old guard at the BSA may be unwilling to change their position, we suspect that the young people actually involved with the organization all across the country will prove more thoughtful.
Zach's petition began the same week that GLAAD and Ohio moms Jennifer Tyrrell and Alicia Burns delivered more than 300,000 petition signatures to the Boy Scouts’ headquarters calling for the BSA to end its ban on LGBT scouts and leaders. Jennifer was ousted as her son's den leader because she is gay in April 2012. The petition has been supported by celebrities including Ricky Martin, Julianne Moore, Benicio del Toro, Fran Drescher, George Takei, Josh Hutcherson and Perez Hilton.
GLAAD, Zach, Jennifer and so many Eagle Scouts are keeping the pressure on the Boy Scouts of America to end their ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. We urge you to stand with the s of Americans by signing Zach's petition at http://change.org/scoutsvote and Jennifer's petition at http://change.org/scouts.
"The real people impacted by this ban are gay young adults who are forced to hide who they are as well as the children of gay parents who are denied an opportunity to participate their children's lives,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “By standing behind this ban, the Boy Scouts of America are contributing to a climate that promotes the bullying of gay young people and putting parents in a place where they are forced to explain to their children why some scouts and hard-working scout leaders are not welcomed in the organization. Discrimination is not a value that should be associated with scouting."
Organizations including the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the America, Campfire USA as well as the 4H Club already welcome gay youth as well as adult leaders.