President Obama says that the Boy Scouts should drop their national ban on allowing gay members. In an interview on Sunday, he was asked about his opinion regarding the recent announcement that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are considering allowing gays to participate in the organization.
The president said that 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 nobody should be barred from that."
There have been several protests over the group’s anti-gay policy following an incident last summer in which an openly lesbian den mother was forced to resign her post over her sexuality.
In a statement issued last week, BSA said that it is considering lifting the national ban on disallowing gay members, and leaving it to local chapters to decide on their own inclusion policies. Critics of this move, including former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, say that it would be devastating to troops, since they would no longer be legally protected against civil lawsuits. “Many will simply leave,” the former senator wrote, “… leaving the Scouts hollowed out at its core.”
On one side of the coin, this seems like the perfect compromise. About 70 percent of BSA groups are church-sponsored, and the majority of them do not want to allow practicing gay people to become members. But what about the rest that don’t mind or care? Should they be allowed to embrace members of the homosexual community?
On the other side is the concern raised by Santorum and others: Will the local chapters that choose not to allow gay members be left legally vulnerable to civil lawsuits? Without the protection of a national ban, will they feel coerced or intimidated to abandon their principles and allow a practice that does not align with their religious beliefs?
I think it’s very possible that local groups will feel bullied into accepting gay members -- and that’s not cool.
We have freedom of religion in this country, even if we don’t agree with what someone else constitutes as sin. If a private, religiously affiliated group wants to put restrictions on membership based on lifestyle choices, then so be it.
What do you think the Boy Scouts will decide?
Image via stevendepolo/Flickr