Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

Tweets by @JGibsonDem
Posts tagged "Scouting"


DALLAS (AP) — Robert Gates, the new president of the Boy Scouts of America, said Friday that he would have moved last year to allow openly gay adults in the organization but said he opposes any further attempts to address the policy now.

Gates took over an organization this week that serves about 2.5 million youth but faces continued membership declines and fights over its inclusion of openly gay boys, but not adults. Gates, the former secretary of defense who oversaw the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, addressed those issues Friday, a day after Scouting’s national leadership elected him president.

"I was prepared to go further than the decision that was made," Gates told The Associated Press in an interview in advance of a speech before the group’s national leaders at its annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. “I would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country.”

The BSA’s National Council voted at last year’s annual meeting to accept openly gay youth, after a monthslong process with protests on both sides. Gates planned to tell Scouting’s leaders Friday that a continued fight over the issue threatens BSA’s future.

"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 and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement — with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own," Gates said in prepared remarks.

Gates, 70, who also served as director of the CIA, is a visible advocate for Scouting as it faces a storm of bad publicity.

The Scouts reached out to Gates as he was retiring from the Defense Department and asked him to join their leadership, said Wayne Perry, the departing BSA president. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who was expected to become president this year, agreed to wait another two years to allow Gates to serve now, Perry said.

"We need America to know what the Boy Scouts can do for the youth of America," Perry said, adding that Gates "immediately can reach an audience that we wouldn’t otherwise reach."

Gates earned his Eagle Scout award as a 15-year-old growing up in Wichita, Kansas. He has long credited that achievement for giving him the confidence to excel in nearly five decades of public service, and he stayed involved in Scouting during his career. He has recalled skeet-shooting with young Scouts while he was director of the CIA.

Along the way, Gates became known as someone willing to speak frankly about problems in the institutions he led, often at the risk of offending others. Gates warned BSA’s leaders Friday that “maybe it’s time for blunt talk.”

Over the last decade, the Scouts have faced small, but consistent declines in membership. Also, high-profile sponsors and corporate donors, including Disney and Lockheed Martin, have cut funding over the exclusion of openly gay adults. Meanwhile, a handful of conservatives who opposed the inclusion of openly gay boys started their own organization, Trail Life USA.

Gates told the AP that he wanted to move the Scouts past that debate and focus on what unites the membership. He said he would push for a heavier focus on local marketing and sharing positive stories about Scouting efforts that are sometimes drowned out by debates over gay rights or child abuse lawsuits filed against the Scouts in several states.

He said he would emphasize to sponsors that “welcoming gay youth is an important step forward.”

Gates led the Defense Department when it phased out the ban on openly gay soldiers known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” something gay-rights groups have cited as a hopeful sign for them. But Gates said Friday that the Scouts were different from the CIA or the military, where “I could give an order and people would follow it, at least most of the time.” In an organization driven almost entirely by volunteers, officials have to respect differences in opinion, he said.

"The key at this point is to keep focus, again, on the top priority, which is, how do we develop the best possible program for kids, and how do we keep their interests at the forefront?" Gates said.


Ron Orr, whose almost-Eagle Scout son left BSA to join Trail Life, explains that “As Christians from a scriptural basis, we love all folks, but the Scripture is very clear that being homosexual is a sin.”

Starting January 1 of 2014, the Boy Scouts of America will put into practice the inclusive policy that welcomes openly gay youth interested in joining the organization.

After much lobbying from grassroots advocates and Scouting families across the country, BSA approved the policy in May 2013 with support from 60% of the voting committee members. While openly LGBT parents and adults are still banned from being Scout leaders, 2014 will start off with a giant victory towards equality in Scouting.

Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member, said he anticipates the implementation to a be a non-issue within the troops, according to the Associated Press. “My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare.” He continued, “it’s business as usual, nothing happens, and we move forward.”

The AP further reported that the Roman Catholic and Mormon Churches, major donors to BSA, plan to continue supporting the organization. On its website, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting spoke on the issue, and stated, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that individuals who disclose a same-sex attraction are to be treated with the same dignity due all human beings.”

While some individual parishes and community members may be cautious of what the lifted ban will bring, GLAAD is confident that equal treatment for all kids and teens, ultimately, can only enhance the Boy Scouts’ values of service and participating citizenship.



Bigoted Antigay ‘Christian’ Version of Boy Scouts, “Trail Life USA’ Launches

The right-wing, christian extremist, anti-gay version of the Boy Scouts of America called The Hitlerjugend Trail Life USA launched yesterday to much “indifference” with special guest speaker Mike “Go Fuck Yourself”Huckabee!

The Washington Times reports:

At the opening session, John Stemberger, chairman of the board of Trail Life USA, teased the crowd saying he would not be surprised if there were “spies” from Grapevine, Texas — BSA’s home base — in the audience. That would make sense, since everyone from supporters to the curious want to know what’s being planned, he said, adding that Trail Life USA will not be “anti-BSA.” The conference’s theme is “Honoring the Legacy, Raising the Standard.” Trail Life USA’s name, drawn from more than 300 options, was carefully vetted and is intended not to be political or controversial, organizers said. “Trail” refers to a pathway and being outdoors, but also symbolizes the passage of life, where there are moral choices, and right and wrong paths, said Mr. Stemberger.

Trail Life USA’s Membership Standards include that members do not engage in or promote sexual immorality of any kind, or engage in behavior that would become a distraction.  Also  that “scouts” for lack of a better word, must be biologically male children under the age of 18.

Trail Life USA states that the basis for the program’s ethical and moral standards are found in the Bible. and that that any sexual activity outside the context of the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman is sinful before God and therefore inconsistent with the values and principles of the program.

Gee. I wonder if self-flagellation is a merit-badge?

You can check out their indoctrination video here and be sure to visit Trail Life USA’s Facebook page HERE  and leave a message..

imageBoy Scouts: Will anti-gay troops emerge? (via The Christian Science Monitor)

Copyright ImageClick to View Boy Scout Pascal Tessier is congratulated by Justin Buckford of Scouts for Equality, after hearing that the Boy Scouts of America had passed a resolution allowing openly gay scouts. Tessier is a Life scout who was unable to become an Eagle scout unless the resolution passed…


GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America’s national leadership will vote Thursday on whether to allow openly gay Scouts in its ranks, a critical and emotionally charged moment for one of the nation’s oldest youth organizations and its millions of members.

About 1,400 voting members of BSA’s national council are to cast ballots Thursday on a resolution to end a policy that allows youth Scouts to be excluded based only on sexual orientation. The ban on gay adult leaders would remain in place.

The vote is taking place at a resort in Grapevine, Texas, not far from BSA’s headquarters, during the national council’s three-day annual meeting. The results are expected to be announced shortly after 5 p.m. CDT Thursday.

Gay-rights supporters and opponents have waged impressive campaigns to win support for their arguments in the months leading up to the vote.

Supporters of allowing gay scouts used a political consulting firm and targeted about 120 local Scouting councils where they thought the most votes could be won. Opponents cited Texas code to obtain the names and addresses of voting members from BSA officials so they could send out mailings, and held rallies across the country last week.

Scouting was established in 1910 and claims 2.6 million youth members, in addition to thousands of leaders and volunteers. Its board of directors includes executives and community leaders, and President Barack Obama is its honorary president.

One estimate suggested a policy change could cause as many as 100,000 to 350,000 Scouts to leave. And it could also affect donors – just more than half of local councils reported to BSA that their donors supported the current ban.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions. While these sponsors include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban – notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it supports the new proposal. Leaders of some smaller, conservative denominations have opposed it.

H/T: Huffington Post

Tracie Felker and Joe Marion share a deep passion for Scouting. Each has a son who attained the top rank of Eagle, and each has spent numerous years and thousands of hours volunteering as Scout leaders, promoting Scout values.

And that’s where they diverge. When the Boy Scouts of America votes next week on whether to admit gay youth as members, Felker and Marion hope for opposite outcomes.

Marion says his issues have to do with logistics. He said admission of gay Scouts would put Troop 413, the pack he started five years ago, at risk of losing its charter. The troop would then have to find a new place to meet if First Baptist Church of Henderson, Tenn., pulls its sponsorship.

Then there are the other considerations, he says, like the ones related to the monthly camping trips his troop organizes.

“The problem is, do I let my kids who are straight share bathrooms and shower houses with kids who are not? How do I divide these kids up for camps? I mean, do I put the gay kids together and then the straight kids together?” he said.

Marion worries about the potential interaction during those sleepaways.

“What happens when a kid comes back from a trip where he was approached, or something did go on – what is the parent going to do? Who are they going to be mad at? Who are they going to lash out at? Me, because I’m the volunteer that took responsibility for their kid,” he said. “You understand why I’m concerned?”

Felker finds those arguments alarmist. A former merit badge coordinator, troop committee chair and two-time den leader, Felker calls the gay ban a form of discrimination that negates everything the Scouts stand for.

The proposal being considered by the national council of the Boy Scouts of America would allow openly gay boys into the program but continue to ban gay adults as leaders. The council’s 1,400-members will vote on the measure May 23 while in Texas for the organization’s national meeting.

Zach Wahls thinks the proposal is a good start but doesn’t go far enough because, among other things, it would exclude parents like his. The 21-year-old Iowa native was raised on Scouting from the time he was 6 by a lesbian couple.

“My mom, Jackie, was a den mother and my mom, Kerry, was an interim Cub Master,” said Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, a group with more than 6,500 Eagle Scouts like himself and other Scout alumni advocating for the admission of gay youth and adults.



After writing a column for WorldNetDaily reprimanding the Boy Scouts of America for proposing a policy to lift the ban on gay members under the age of eighteen, Linda Harvey of Mission America took to the airwaves today to warn Scout leaders that such a move will “betray children” and engender “destructive psychological dynamics” within the organization. She alleged that homosexuality is a “high-risk and sinful lifestyle” and that gay scouts will inevitably try to have “physical and sexual contact” with their “fellow troop members who may not welcome this attention.”

NEW YORK — Under pressure over its longstanding ban on gays, the Boys Scouts of America is proposing to lift the ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders.

The Scouts announced Friday that it would submit this proposal to the roughly 1,400 voting members of its National Council at a meeting in Texas the week of May 20.

Earlier, the BSA had indicated it might give local Scout units the option of admitting gays as both youth members and adult leaders, or continuing to exclude them

The BSA said Friday it changed course due in part to results of surveys sent out this year to members of the scouting community.

Gay-rights groups have demanded a complete lifting of the ban. Some churches and conservative groups want it maintained.

I wish the ban on gays in the BSA was fully dropped instead of halfway. 

It’s that time of year again when Girl Scouts sell cookies… and right-wing activists attack the Girl Scouts. Today, Linda Harvey of Mission America took offense that the Scouts support “radical feminists” and “homosexual lifestyles” and “feature prominent female homosexuals in some of their materials.” She alleged that they dismiss “authentic morality, Christianity, conservative viewpoints and just plain old motherhood” and “sexual self-restraint” while at the same time promoting “an attitude of suspicion toward males.”

h/t: Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch

In her blogpost on her show’s website, far-right anti-LGBTQ homophobic KFTK radio host Dana Loesch makes baseless cheap shots against people who support allowing gays into the Boy Scouts of America and also mocks the “It Gets Better” campaign founded by Dan Savage.

She even mocked the ACLU, protesters against Chick-Fil-A, and even against Attorney General Eric Holder in her farce of a PSA.

Her blogpost that’s full of lies on

It gets better, unless you’re the Boy Scouts, then culture puts a ‘kick me’ sign on your back.The PSAs that tell kids “It gets better?” Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t. It never gets better. It stays the same. Bullies grow up to be bigger bullies, bullies who join the ACLU, MMfA, OFA, or some hokey acronym’d org and then get paid to bully others for a living. I had a bully once. 
Apparently it never dawned on any of these activists that here in America you can start your own group and create your own rules. If you dislike how the Boy Scouts operate, then don’t join. Churches sponsor around 70% of the Scout troops anyway, so it’s not like their beliefs are a secret. Create your own group and run it your own way.This insistence that everyone be of hive mind and accept the same things and establish a boring homogenous culture where if everyone is special no one is betrays the “individualism” that the left preaches. If you’re so “pro-choice,” then leave the choice of which group to join or support to the people. Offer them competition. Create other choices, alternatives.
But stop the bullying and the lawfare. That doesn’t make it better.

And to make things worse for Loesch and other homophobic loons on the right, the majority of Americans surveyed in a Quinnipiac poll released today (02.06.2013) supports allowing gays into the BSA 55%-33%, or a +22% differential in favor of allowing them in.


Continue ban         33%  
End ban 55 
DK/NA                12     
Continue ban 19% End ban  71%  DK/NA 10% 
Continue ban 51% End ban 33% DK/NA  16% 
Continue ban  31% End ban  57%  DK/NA  12% 


The Boy Scouts of America should drop its ban on openly gay members, American voters say 55 - 33 percent in a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. 
There is a large gender gap as women support gay scouts 61 - 27 percent, compared to 49 - 39 percent among men, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. White Catholics support gay scouts 63 - 25 percent. Among white Protestants, 44 percent say open up scouting and 41 percent say no. White evangelical Protestants oppose gay scouts 56 - 33 percent. 
One troubling finding for Scouting in America is that 54 percent of voters say they were Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, while only 36 percent of voters, including 55 percent of former scouts, say they have children in Scouting. 
"Now that the Armed Forces ban on openly gay service members has been lifted, and polls show increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage, most American voters think it’s time to open up the Boy Scouts too," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. 

(cross-posted from

IRVING, Texas — The Boy Scouts of America put off a decision Wednesday on whether to lift its ban on gay members and leaders, saying the question will be taken up at the organization’s national meeting in May.

"After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," Deron Smith, the BSA director of public relations, said in a statement.

Smith said the organization’s national executive board will prepare a resolution for the 1,400 voting members of the national council to consider. The annual meeting will take place in May, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas.

BSA announced last week it was considering allowing troops to decide whether to allow gay membership. That news has placed a spotlight on executive board meetings that began Monday in Irving, Texas, where scouting headquarters is located.

Smith said last week that the board could take a vote Wednesday or decide to discuss the policy, but that the organization would issue a statement either way. Otherwise, the board has remained silent, with reporters barred from the hotel where its meetings are taking place.

At nearby BSA headquarters, a handful of Scouts and leaders delivered petitions Monday in support of letting gay members join. The conservative group Texas Values, meanwhile, had organized a Wednesday morning prayer vigil urging the Scouts to keep their policy the same.

President Barack Obama, an opponent of the policy, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout who supports it, both have weighed in.

Perry, the author of the book “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For,” said in a speech Saturday that “to have popular culture impact 100 years of their standards is inappropriate.”

Conservatives have warned of mass defections if Scouting allows gay membership to be determined by troops. Local and regional leaders, as well as the leadership of churches that sponsor troops, would be forced to consider their own policies. And policy opponents who delivered four boxes of signatures to BSA headquarters Monday said they wouldn’t be satisfied by only a partial acceptance of gay scouts and leaders.

h/t: Huffington Post

This week, the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America will reconsider the organization’s policy of barring gay Scouts and leaders. As a result of this proposed change, many conservatives are urging the group to maintain its discrimination.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has written extensively about how the Boy Scouts affected his life, and he reiterated those thoughts to hundreds of Texas Scouts who gathered in the state House of Representatives on Saturday for their annual Report to State. Speaking to reporters afterward, Perry defended the discriminatory policy:

PERRY: Hopefully the board will follow their historic position of keeping the Scouts strongly supportive of the values that make Scouting this very important and impactful organization. I think most people see absolutely no reason to change the position and neither do I… To have popular culture impact 100 years of their standards is inappropriate.

Perry also disagreed that a change would make the Scouts more tolerant, claiming, “I think you get tolerance and diversity every day in Scouting.”

Fellow former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has offered a similar screed against theproposed change in the Scouts’ policy, suggesting the board’s vote this week is “a challenge to the Scouts’ very nature” that will cause a “mass exodus,” “leaving the Scouts hollowed at its core.” Indeed, a whole coalition of anti-gay hate groups is calling on the Scouts’ to maintain the policy because of the false assumption that all homosexuals are pedophiles.

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association said that a change in the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay members would be a “suicide mission” and lead to pedophilia. While speaking to AFA news director Fred Jackson yesterday on Focal Point, Fischer said that gay men are “ten times” more likely than heterosexuals to molest children, and it would be “insanity” to have them “bunking down with your kid at jamboree.”

“To me it’s just suicidal, they are finished, they are done,” Fischer told Jackson, “There is not one loving father in America that ever, ever, ever ought to entrust his son to the Boy Scouts of America.”

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW