More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
WATCH: President Obama says Boy Scouts should accept gay members
In a pre-Super Bowl interview today, President Obama reaffirmed his opposition to the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scouts and leaders. The Boy Scouts Board of Directors is expected to vote on a resolution that would end the national policy barring gay participants next week.
When asked if the Boy Scouts should be open to gay members, the president replied, "Yes."
"I think that my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life," he continued. "The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives. I think that no one should be barred from that."
"President Obama echoes the voice of millions of Americans, who have already spoken out against the Boy Scouts' outdated and discriminatory policy," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "What's clear is that anti-gay discrimination is no longer an American value, and until everyone is welcome, the Boy Scouts will only fall further out of touch with the growing majority of people who support equality for all."
This marks the second time President Obama has spoken out against the Boy Scouts' anti-gay ban. In an August statement to the Washington Blade, White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said: "The President believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation."
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 330,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
More than 1 million people have joined Change.org petition campaigns since Tyrrell launched her first petition. Since that day, advocacy efforts and successful petition campaigns have recruited two Boy Scout board members -- AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Ernst & Young CEO James Turley -- to denounce the national anti-gay policy. GLAAD, together with Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality Zach Wahls, have also used Change.org petitions to pressure corporate donors such as Intel and UPS to pull funding until the Boy Scouts end their policy banning gay youth and parents. Last fall, a Bay Area mother named Karen Andresen petitioned her local Boy Scout council to honor her son Ryan with an Eagle Award that was denied to him when the Scout came out as gay. An official Eagle Board Board of Review unanimously approved Ryan's application for Eagle, but a Boy Scout executive ultimately rejected his application.