February 7, 2013

Wednesday's anticipated vote by the Boy Scouts of America on whether to drop its national ban on openly gay scouts and leaders has taken on all the trappings of culture-war politics: liberal petition drives, conservative e-mail campaigns, corporate pressure, prayer vigils, and opinions expressed everywhere from the Texas statehouse to the White House. But what the decision really comes down to is one simple question: How should an organization that preaches kindness and honesty treat individuals? Individuals such as Jen Tyrrell, an exceptional Cub Scout den leader who was ejected from her Bridgeport, Ohio, post last year because she is a lesbian. Or Jon Langbert, of suburban Dallas, who says he was dumped in 2010 as a fundraiser for his sons' Cub Scout pack after another father said a "gay guy" couldn't run fundraising. Or James Dale, an exemplary Eagle Scout and assistant troop leader, who was forced out of Scouting in 1990 after leaders in New Jersey discovered from his comments in a newspaper that he was gay.