Last week, we lamented the flagrant hypocrisy of newly appointed Boy Scouts President, Robert Gates (former Bush and Obama Defense Secretary) in failing to step up to resolve the organization’s dislocation when it comes to accepting gay scoutmasters.
Last year, after public pressure, the Boy Scouts finally reversed a century of discrimination against gay people with a new policy allowing young, openly gay boys to participate. The organization’s failure, however, solidified with the hiring of Gates, lies with continued discrimination against adult scoutmasters. They couldn’t justify excluding gay scouts, and they will not be able to justify excluding gay scout leaders, and until they do they are systematically removing positive gay role models from the gay scout’s experience while sending the opposite message that there is a serious problem when gay adults fraternize with young people.
For example, what to do with gay Eagle Scouts who at age 18 or subsequently want to continue their involvement as a scout leader? Or what about a gay parent who wants to share the Boy Scout experience with their (straight or gay) children?
And in far too many organizations, policies and practices that discriminate against LGBT individuals remain persistent concerns. Lambda Legal is among the groups that have led efforts to address these conditions – for instance, through your work in 1992, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, to challenge the termination of an Assistant Scoutmaster when the organization found out he was gay. Unfortunately, the continuation of a policy that discriminates against gay adult leaders – by an iconic American institution – only preserves and perpetuates the worst kind of stereotypes.
Holder went on to say . . .
Today – 45 long years after Stonewall – we can finally envision a day when the sun will rise on an America that sees LGBT individuals as full and equal citizens.
But that day has not yet arrived. I firmly believe that the struggle to make it a reality constitutes a defining civil rights challenge of our time. And that’s why President Obama and I are committed to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone who has the courage to reach for the values of equality and opportunity.
We come together tonight at an important juncture – in a moment defined by challenge, consequence, and great opportunity. Remarkable achievements stretch behind us. Important, life-changing work lies ahead. And I want the American people to know that this Administration – and this Department of Justice and this Attorney General – will never be content to be bystanders to the march of history. We will march, we will fight, and we will work alongside you to help shape it.
Holder’s complete remarks can be found here.
Related: A Hypocrite the Boy Scouts can love