Richardson Would Drop Boy Scouts Over Anti-Gay Policy
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: September 27, 2007 - 9:00 am ET
(Hanover, New Hampshire) Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday night that if he is elected president he would refuse to accept the position of Honorary Chair of the Boy Scouts of America because of Scouting's ban on gays.
The New Mexico governor made the pledge during a Democratic presidential debate in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Richardson was asked if he would accept the chair of the organization, traditionally offered to presidents.
"No, I wouldn’t, because I think as president I would commit myself, number one, that I will be a leader that prevents discrimination on the basis of race, gender and sexual orientation," he replied.
No president has refused the offer of chair of the Boy Scouts.
In 2000 the Supreme Court turned down an appeal from a scout leader from New Jersey who was fired when the organization learned he is gay and in a longterm relationship.
The high court ruled that the Boys Scouts and its affiliates could prohibit gays because it is a private organization.
The ruling said the Constitution gave scouts the right to choose its members. The Scouts also prohibits atheists.
Membership in the BSA has declined since the Supreme Court ruling.
A number of cities banned the scouts from using public facilities, and charitable groups like some United Way chapters cut off the scouts.
But, in cities where agencies like the United Way continues to fund the BSA it has been alleged that troops are being encouraged to list fake names as members to boost enrolment making the group eligible for more money.
In 2005 the FBI began an investigation into charges scout leaders in Alabama, Georgia, and Texas pumped up the number of scouts in their troops in order to obtain more funding from the United Way and other charitable organizations.
Richardson, like other Democratic candidates, has specifically targeted the LGBT vote. But during last month's Democratic Presidential Forum sponsored by Logo television, which owns 365Gay.com, and the Human Rights Campaign Richardson in response to a question said, that he believed that sexual orientation was a “choice.”
He later apologized saying he had misunderstood the question.
Richardson has a record of being generally supportive of LGBT issues, although he opposes same-sex marriage, preferring civil unions instead.
Last March Richardson recalled the New Mexico legislature to deal with several bills including domestic partner legislation that died when the session ended.
In 2003, he issued an executive order providing state employees, both gay and straight, with the option of providing their partners health insurance through domestic partner coverage. Under the order, domestic partner coverage is not available to employees after they retire, while spousal coverage is provided.
Late last year Richardson joined LGBT activists in calling for a statewide domestic partner law that would provide the same benefits as marriage.
The measure passed the House but the Senate stripped out many of the bill's provisions, making it according to gay rights groups meaningless. When the revised bill returned to the House the original language was restored but the session ended before the Senate could vote again.
Richardson in March was the keynote speaker at a major event in Los Angeles sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign.