The Boy Scouts of America were scheduled this week to decide whether or not to lift its long-standing ban on accepting homosexual Scout leaders in local troops. [The decision has now been delayed.] The push to lift the ban comes from two members of its national board who both support homosexual Scout leaders but worry more about how progressive-minded corporations extort BSA over its no-gay policy. These corporations threaten to quit donating to BSA until the ban is lifted.
There are no serious political threats to BSA driving this renewed debate. Nobody beyond homosexual activists and those two BSA board members are pushing the issue. There’s no legal threat against BSA – in 2000, the United States Supreme Court settled the issue: BSA does not have to accept homosexual Scout leaders if it doesn’t want to.
There are at least three good reasons why BSA should not cave to the pressure of homosexual activists.
First, as the United States Supreme Court determined 12 years ago, the Boy Scouts of America have a fundamental First Amendment right of “expressive association.” The court ruled, “Implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment is a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious and cultural ends.” It added, “This right is crucial in preventing the majority from imposing its views on groups that would rather express other, perhaps unpopular, ideas.”
The New Jersey appellate court, whose decision the Supreme Court overturned, had argued that while BSA had a right to promote moral values, including sexual chastity before marriage and marriage itself, between a man and a woman, allowing a homosexual Scoutmaster into its ranks was no threat to those values. In other words, BSA could stand for something, it just wasn’t permitted to stand against something. It could support moral values; it just wasn’t permitted to oppose homosexuality. Indeed, that’s the whole point for homosexual activists: For them, homosexuality is moral. The Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court and ruled in favor of BSA.
Second, BSA argues that homosexuality goes against its stated values of being “clean” and “morally straight.” On the other hand, homosexual activists invoke what they like to call the standard of “otherwise qualified.” It goes like this: If a homosexual is otherwise qualified to hold a certain position, such as a Scoutmaster, his homosexuality shouldn’t be a factor in that consideration. The problem with that argument is that as long as homosexuality effectively defines a person’s identity – and it does for homosexual activists; they call it being “gay” – there is no such factor as “otherwise” qualified. Everyone must factor that person’s homosexuality into any relationship for the very reason that homosexuals won’t have it any other way.
Lastly, there’s the safety and well-being of Scouters. Let’s call it the Sandusky factor, named after former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. Setting aside the debate over whether or not homosexuals disproportionately abuse teenagers, there is one unavoidable reality: Males driven to have sex with males should not be placed in intimate positions of authority over other males. Sandusky swears he’s not a homosexual even though he had homosexual relations with teenage boys. So self-identifying as a homosexual isn’t really the point, is it? We should be far more protective of young Scouts than we are concerned about the emotional sensitivities of adults. Scouting is not about the adults, it’s about the kids.
For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening.