In an interview with CBS, which aired last night during the Super Bowl, Barack Obama expressed his support for the removal of the ban on homosexuals serving in the Boy Scouts of America.
When anchor Scott Pelley asked Obama if the Scouts should allow open homosexuals, he simply replied, “Yes.”
“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 said. “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, and I think that nobody should be barred [from] that.”
The Boy Scouts of America is expected to vote Wednesday on whether or not it will lift its longstanding ban of over 100 years.
As previously reported, the organization confirmed late last month that it was in talks about becoming neutral on the subject and was considering allowing each troop to decide its position on the matter.
“The BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation,” outlined spokesperson Deron Smith in a written statement. “The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver scouting to determine how to address this issue.”
“[The headquarters] would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents,” he added.
However, just last June, the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its policy banning openly homosexual members and leaders, a deliberation which was two years in the making.
“The committee’s work and conclusion is that this policy reflects the beliefs and perspectives of the BSA’s members, thereby allowing scouting to remain focused on its mission and the work it is doing to serve more youth,” a statement released by the eleven-member committee deciding the matter read.
Although the organization does not prohibit those struggling with same-sex attraction from serving as scouts, it has heretofore barred open homosexuals from joining a troop. The current policy reads, “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
In addition to being reaffirmed last year by the panel, the policy was also upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 2000 in a 5-4 decision. It has been under fire from pro-homosexual groups since, and may now possibly be discarded due to continued pressure. Smith did not outline the organization’s motivation for the new talks regarding revocation of the policy.
The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1909, was created to mirror the British Boy Scouts, and was stated by some to be a Christian organization.
“Scouting is nothing less than applied Christianity,” wrote British founder Sir Robert Baden-Powell in a 1917 publication entitled Scouting & Christianity.
John L. Alexander, one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America, also echoed this sentiment.
“The Boy Scouts of America maintain that no boy can grow into the best kind of citizenship without recognizing his obligation to God,” he wrote. “The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe, and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings is necessary to the best type of citizenship and is a wholesome thing in the education of the growing boy.”