PRESIDENT OBAMA CALLS FOR AN END TO BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA’S ANTI-GAY BAN, JOINING ROMNEY IN SUPPORTING GAYS IN SCOUTING White House confirmed today that President Obama, who serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America, opposes Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy On Saturday, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign said Romney stands by his 1994 statement supporting gays in the Boy Scouts, saying: “I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.” Zach Wahls and Jennifer Tyrrell respond to Obama and Romney’s endorsements
WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama, who serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America, publicly opposed the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy today, and joined presidential candidate Mitt Romney in supporting gay Americans participating in the Boy Scouts.
In a statement released to the Washington Blade, White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said “The President believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.”
On Saturday, the Mitt Romney for President campaign, responding to a 1994 video recently surfaced by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), confirmed that Romney still believes gay Americans should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts. Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said that Romney’s 1994 comments, where he said that the Boy Scouts should welcome members who are gay, “remains Romney’s position today.”
“I couldn’t agree more with President Obama about how important the BSA is to this country’s young men and am proud to have his support,” said Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality. “The fact that the Presidential candidates of both major American parties have come together to oppose the BSA’s anti-gay policy in the most polarized political climate since Reconstruction speaks volumes about both the moral validity and critical importance of ending the ban. It’s no surprise that the leader of the free world is willing to advocate for a little more freedom within the BSA.”
Wahls hopes his organization’s new web site, which launched earlier this week at http://scoutsforequality.org, will help scouts and scout leaders continue the conversation that was inspired by Jennifer Tyrrell’s Change.org petition which has been signed by more than 300,000 Americans.
Tyrrell joined Wahls in praising President Obama’s opposition to the Boy Scouts’ policy on gay Scouts and leaders.
“For the first time ever, a sitting President of the United States has spoken out against the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policies,” said Tyrrell. “Now, the BSA is not only turning its back on hundreds of thousands of Americans, as well as current and past Scouts — they’re turning their back on the leader of the free world and their very own ‘honorary president.’”
In the video released by GLAAD, Romney, a former national board member of the Boy Scouts of America, said that sexual orientation should not be a factor when it comes to participating in scouting.
“I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Romney says in the video, prefacing his support for gays and lesbians by stating his belief “that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue.”
The Romney campaign’s affirmation of his 1994 position comes after more than 400,000 Americans, including thousands of Scouts and Scout leaders and two Boy Scout national board members, have signed on in support of two Change.org petitions launched by former lesbian den mother Jennifer Tyrrell and Eagle Scout Zach Wahls.
Following Romney’s support earlier this week, Wahls stated: “Scouts for Equality is proud to have Governor Romney’s support on this issue amid such a polarized political climate His leadership is to be commended, and we hope he can set an example of how people with differing religious beliefs can come together to support the Boy Scouts of America’s mission to serve our communities and develop tomorrow’s leaders, regardless of sexual orientation.”
Wahls, son of two gay moms whose 2011 video in support of marriage equality became a viral sensation, founded Scouts for Equality after delivering signatures from former den leader Tyrrell’s petition to a BSA national conference in Orlando in May. Tyrrell began working with GLAAD to raise awareness for the discriminatory ban in April 2012 after being ousted as her son’s den leader for being gay.
“Our nation’s leaders from across religions and political persuasions have joined hundreds of thousands of Americans in speaking out against the blatant discrimination that the Boy Scouts of America teaches young adults today,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “It’s clear that this outdated policy will be changing in the future. How long will the Boy Scouts continue to bully young gay Americans into hiding who they are and hurt children of gay parents by denying their parents an opportunity to participate in their children’s lives?”