Robert Gates

Super-hero Holder calls out Boy Scouts

Boy Scout Ceremony Flickr/creative commons

Boy Scout Ceremony
Flickr/creative commons

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?

Now, at Monday’s 14th Annual Lambda Legal Reception in Washington, DC, Eric Holder, the most progressive Attorney General we have been so lucky to have, has stepped into the breach.

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



A hypocrite the Boy Scouts can love

New Boy Scouts President Robert Gates: ‘I Would Have Supported Having Gay Scoutmasters’

Despite media to the contrary, Robert Gates, the Bush and Obama Administration, Defense Secretary, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans) insiders didn’t view him as a true friend helping to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. He had no problem accepting any and all kudos that may have come his way, however. By now mention of active duty troops and veterans who had to endure nearly 3 extra years of discrimination under Gates, until he finally relented and put a freeze on dismissals. has been dutifully scrubbed from his biography.

But Gates’s latest demonstration of his underlying hypocrisy is revealed by his first public address as the newly appointed President of the Boy Scouts. He actually said . . .

Robert Gates (WikiCommons)

Robert Gates

A year ago, this meeting saw a respectful and civil debate over membership policy. In a democratic process, a strong majority of the volunteer leadership of this movement from all across the nation voted to welcome gay youth into scouting. In all candor, I would have supported going further, as I did in opening the way for gays to serve in CIA and in the military. […]

[…] Given the strong feelings — the passion — involved on both sides of this matter, I believe strongly that to re-open the membership issue or try to take last year’s decision to the next step would irreparably fracture or perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement — with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own. That is just a fact of life, and who would pay the price for destroying the Boy Scouts of America? Millions of scouts today and scouts yet unborn. We must always put the kids and their interests first. Thus, during my time as president, I will oppose any effort to re-open this issue.


This is a classic, really. Few profiles in public cowardice are so flagrant. It is glaringly obvious now: he was hired exactly because he wouldn’t bring needed change. Due to public pressure, the Boy Scouts had to reverse its discriminatory practice of throwing out young boys because they were gay. The next obvious step was to stop discriminating against scout leaders (often former scouts themselves) by throwing them out because they were gay.

A May 2013 ABC poll found that 56 percent of Americans oppose the organization’s “intention to continue to ban gay adults.”

By not taking this step, the Scouts are further discriminating against gay youth by demonstrating, in fact, that being gay is a bad thing, and that these young gay Scouts shouldn’t need positive adult role models, who happen to be gay. Hypocrisy writ large that will endure through Boy Scout President Gates 2-year term unless we ramp up pressure and right this wrong.

If you can, support and work with organizations such as Scouts for Equality, who, along with more than 1.8 million petition signers have called on the Boy Scouts to end its anti-LGBT practices.