Boy Scouts Lift Ban On Gay Youths, Gay Staff Still Banned

by
Owen Poindexter
Progress was made with the Boy Scouts of America yesterday, when the group's leadership voted to lift the ban on gay scouts. 61% (757 of 1,232) of the national council voted to lift the ban, a stunning change (and major sign of the times) for a group that has long been associated with a proud homophobic stance.

boy scouts, gay, gay ban, boy scouts of america, equality
The Boy Scouts of America voted to lift their ban on openly gay scouts (but not staff members) in a landmark vote this week. PHOTO: Public domain
 
Progress was made with the Boy Scouts of America yesterday, when the group's leadership voted to lift the ban on gay scouts. 61% (757 of 1,232) of the national council voted to lift the ban, a stunning change (and major sign of the times) for a group that has long been associated with a proud homophobic stance. The Boy Scouts weren't willing to accept full equality--gay staff members are still banned--but this is still a major step for the 2.6 million member group. Zach Wahls, 21, the son of two moms, who founded Scouts for Equality, an organization that advocates for gay rights within the Scouts organization, said that the move was hugely significant:

"Today's vote ending discrimination of gay Scouts is truly a historic moment and demonstrates the Boy Scouts of America's commitment to creating a more inclusive organization," said Wahls.

Others wished that the Boy Scouts of America had voted for full equality:

"We are disappointed that it doesn't include everybody," said Alan Snyder, chairman of the board of the Western Los Angeles County Council of the Boy Scouts of America. "Inclusive should be all-inclusive."

Snyder is right, of course, but people often need a middle ground before they fully accept something as radical as not judging people based on which gender they find sexually attractive (shocking, I know). That's why so many states have civil unions instead of full gay marriage. (Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg recently referred to civil unions as "skim milk marriage.") Hopefully the boy scouts will catch their breath at this equality island in the middle and continue on their way to full equality before long.

There were many opponents and protests around the move to accept openly gay scouts. They still form a significant minority, for now, but not forever. The anti-gay movement will be marginalized more and more until it is indistinguishable from the anti-civil rights protestors from decades past.

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