YESTERDAY, in the face of strong opposition from religious groups, the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift a century-old ban on openly gay scouts.
More than 60 percent of the group's National Council, comprised of some 1,400 delegates, voted in favour of scrapping the ban with effect from January 1, 2014.
But a prohibition on openly gay adult leaders remains in place.
Among the thousands who welcomed the result were gay brothers Lucien, 20, and Pascal Tessier, 16. Lucien, an Eagle Scout, started an on-line petition to get the scouts to make the change.
According to this report, ahead of the landmark vote Pascal Tessier joined about a dozen classmates in a demonstration:
Against an organisation he says he loves but knows doesn’t fully accept him and could, at any moment, throw him out.
Tessier, a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Maryland, is a poet, an electric guitar player and an ice cream lover. He is also a Boy Scout and openly gay, which puts him at risk of being denied the Eagle Scout ranking he has long pursued. If that were to happen, Tessier said, he’d be “devastated”.
I’d also feel betrayed, because it’s an organisation I trusted, and I put my heart into doing good for them.
But the vote means that there is now no danger of that happening.
While gays were rejoicing over the result, there were long faces in the ranks of those who vehemently opposed inclusivity. About 70 perpect of all Scout troops are run by faith-based organisations. About 37 percent are Mormon, 10 percent Methodist and 8 percent Catholic.
In this report, Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute in Washington, DC, said the shift:
Would utterly change Scouting and dramatically reduce their ranks. The Catholic and Mormon groups would simply have to walk away.
And Texas Governor Rick Perry, voiced his displeasure in a statement which said:
The Boys Scouts of America has been built upon the values of faith and family for more than 100 years and today’s decision contradicts generations of tradition in the name of political correctness.
While I will always cherish my time as a scout and the life lessons I learned, I am greatly disappointed with this decision.
NOTE: A full report on the this historic battle will appear in the June issue of The Pink Humanist