I’ll go along with Scouts for Equality. This is a step. A small one, but a step.
Well, more like a toe. One toe forward.
Current BSA policy states that they don’t “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.” And that adult applicants “must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law.” (http://www.scouting.org/MembershipStandards/KnowTheFacts/FAQs.aspx)
The first could imply a couple of things. One could be that because there’s an “or” in there, the two items are mutually exclusive. Meaning they don’t always assume homosexuals engage in distracting behavior. Which is very true, because we don’t. But even if that’s what they meant by “or”, then it really doesn’t give a reasoning why homosexuals can’t be in BSA. If it IS the case, that’s quite biased, because any distracting behavior they’d start would be also a possibility from heterosexuals. And believe me, I get that there are plenty of religious sects that believe homosexuality is a sin, but there are also plenty that don’t, and those that don’t turn us away from their membership. Acceptance seems to be the underlying tone of most holy books, stronger than the need to discriminate or turn anyone away.
Now, in BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principle, they don’t define exactly what they mean by “religion” or “god.” So effectively, atheists can be members because chaos and coincidence are their universe’s ruling forces. Their religion doesn’t require habitual practices, nor prayers, nor observances and/or ceremonies. But that is something they believe, and that fits BSA’s bill. Be they atheists or hard core Mormons, they’re welcomed, which means anyone of a religion that promotes homosexuality as good and a natural part of life doesn’t go against adult requirements. Moreover, there are even provisions to ensure Boy Scouts should never be forced to conform to a religion or the practices of others. The same goes for the Oath and Law, for there’s nothing explicitly saying a homosexual can’t perform all of the duties and assume all of the traits that they swear to, for good reason, because being homosexual alone has no pull on how good or evil of a human you are.
And before some of you argue, no, allowing homosexual leaders isn’t forcing religious beliefs on others. We’re not asking you to get with the times and see that diversity is the spice of life, that living with your fellow man is better than pushing them away, that you should use the reasoning that your god gave you and recognize that something devoted, pure, and consensual is good. We’re asking you to stop discrimination, which is what this BS policy implies.
Oops, I meant BSA policy. Honestly.
Back to the article and Gates’ words. Some of his reasoning saddens me.
“we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.” Back the popcorn truck up. What? Perhaps I was misled all these years in thinking that scouting organizations were cultivating future world leaders. IE those that lead by example. IE those who change the world. Yes, nondiscrimination is how we wish the world to be. Right? Am I alone in that hope? He also played the angle of lawsuits and Supreme Court decisions, that BSA could get in serious legal doodoo if they continued on this path. And then he pointed out the hundreds of thousands of members in troops sponsored by religious establishments. Why point out numbers of membership if you’re not trying to sway voters in regards to losing that membership? Better yet, I refer to my earlier statement: sexual orientation has no effect on the type of leader you can be. I actually put more faith in those of alternate orientations, because of the fights they’ve endured with grace, patience, and perseverance.
In the same breath, though, I ultimately stand behind Mr. Gates. CIA Director. Secretary of Defense. That’s right, an Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout was in charge of two of the largest, most intricate and dedicated pieces of our government, seeking to uphold our freedoms and preserve it for future generations. That’s some tough stuff right there, if I were only to use small words. If Gates can be part of the impetus behind the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discrimination, then I can support this guy. And hope that the world as I wish it to be will soon be the world as it is.