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Happy Harvey Milk Day! How fitting that I, as Milk used to say in his speeches, am here to recruit you!
The Boy Scouts of America will be voting on new policies dealing with the extent to which openly gay men and boys can be members of its organization. (The policy through today has been: “they can’t be at all”; the reality has been “lots of them have been, but have been in the closet where the Scouts are concern.) The BSA’s executive board will be meeting this weekend in Grapevine, Texas, to vote on the policy. Some want it to stay as it is. Some want to open up the Scouts to openly gay members, on the theory that they are no less able to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, or reverent than anyone else in the organization.
Still others — the betting favorites, at this point — are promoting a compromise that says that gays will be able to be members of the organization until age 18, and then they’re out! (Well, they’re out only if they’re “out.”) You get the idea. This is progress of a sort, apparently based on the fiction that no sexuality gets expressed before one’s 18th birthday anyway, so no problem, but it’s still very weird. Gay men are capable of being Scout Leaders without molesting their charges; if anything, the recognition that some of them may be gay takes away some of the cover of darkness that has allowed — hate to tell those of you who don’t know this, but oh yes it has! — molestation of (or sexual relations with willing) minors in the past. (As a parent, I worry about closeted homosexuals molesting children, not ones who are out. I worry about openly gay people in this respect only about as much as a worry about openly straight ones — maybe less, in fact, because they have better bars available to seek out partners.)
I’m proud to have support a resolution drafted by the DPOC’s Michael Fox and presented at Monday night’s meeting that lobbies the BSA to cut the BS. In fact, here it is:
RESOLUTION URGING THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA TO
END ALL DISCRIMINATION BASED UPON SEXUAL ORIENTATION
WHEREAS, since its founding over a hundred years ago, the Boy Scouts of America has striven to instill in boys a love, appreciation, and respect for the outdoors; inspired boys to help other people and their communities; taught boys numerous skills ranging from first aid to seamanship that simultaneously increased boys’ self-esteem and benefited our communities, our state, and our nation; and prepared boys to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes and to be responsible, participating citizens; and
WHEREAS, the Democratic Party of Orange County opposes and condemns all discrimination on the basis of, among other personal characteristics, sexual orientation; and
WHEREAS, the policy of the Boy Scouts of America to bar from membership or leadership positions otherwise qualified individuals solely on the basis of their sexual orientation causes harm to innumerable boys who, regardless of their hard work and merits, are denied the opportunity to participate in any way in the Boy Scouts of America; and denies leadership opportunities to adults, including the parents of Scouts, and stigmatizes both boys and adults on the basis of their sexual orientation; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Democratic Party of Orange County congratulates and commends the Boy Scouts of America for rejecting prejudice and bigotry, and adopting a youth membership policy that states that no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Democratic Party of Orange County condemns and opposes all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and calls upon the Boy Scouts of America to reject prejudice and bigotry in its adult leadership policy as well as its youth membership policy, and adopt a policy that states that no one may be denied participation or leadership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation.
I’m very proud indeed that we passed this resolution unanimously and by acclamation!
(Hey, Log Cabin Republicans, can your political party do this? Come on over — we’re generally business friendly! Sometimes too much so, for some of us. Contributions of thanks accepted as an alternative.)
And now, it’s time to OJB readers to engage in some activism yourselves. This just came through from GLAAD (once the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, now just the initials — but we all still know that KFC is Kentucky Fried Chicken, don’t we?) asking for YOU to make CONTACT this MOMENT! (Or as soon as you can — but today, OK?)
Tomorrow, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will hold a historic vote on equality, and what the BSA hears today will make all the difference. That’s why James Dale – a former Eagle Scout whose membership was revoked by the BSA after he came out as gay – has a special request:
Right now, anti-gay forces are organizing a nationwide effort in support of keeping the discriminatory ban on gay Scouts and leaders. That’s why it’s more important than ever that you show your support for equality right now.
Please join James Dale and take two minutes to show the Boy Scouts that the majority of Americans support equality. Add an equality badge to your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures with our tool at www.glaad.org/scouts - and encourage your friends, family and neighbors to do the same.
Don’t let the anti-gay forces win. Give the Boy Scouts that final push to end its long history of discrimination, and show them that equality is the best policy.
Thank you for taking a stand with James today.
P.S. We’ve been working over a year to change this policy, and we’ve come so far. Our staff is on the ground in Texas today where the vote is happening, and we invite you to check out updates, photos and videos throughout the day at www.glaad.org/scouts
This is real — and it’s happening now. Take a couple of minutes, click the link, and be a part of a historic change.