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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

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Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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Twin Rivers Council, Albany, NY Stands by Fellow Gay Scout Chris Hayes

Capital District Coalition for Inclusive Scouting
February 6, 2001

Committee formed to discuss no-gays policy

ALBANY, NY: Twin Rivers Council held its annual business meeting this past Saturday. The gathering ran much the same as previous years: presentations of special awards including the Silver Beaver, election of officers, and other business was brought before the voting membership. But one motion made towards the end of the meeting caught everyone's attention.

The June 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the Boy Scouts of America to ban gays from the organization, has thrown the once wholesome group into the national spotlight. Many people, both in and out of Scouting, gay and straight, have protested and urged the organization to voluntarily change their policy.

Towards the end of Saturday's meeting, veteran Scouter Joseph Berlant of Schenectady stood up and made a motion for the executive board of the Twin Rivers Council to form a committee, which would research and discuss the anti-gay policy, and possibly make a recommendation to the national council on changing it. The motion was immediately seconded and very little
discussion took place before the vote. It was passed with an overwhelming majority.

Many people approached Berlant after the meeting adjourned to ask him why he proposed the motion.

"The situation in our council is a little different than most across the country. We've got a face attached to the policy--that of Chris Hayes." Berlant went on to say, "I've known Chris for many years, and he's done a lot for this council. He's an Eagle Scout and has been our lodge and section chief, is a Vigil Honor member and a DSA recipient. I cannot believe they just turned the other cheek."

In August 2000, Christopher Hayes of Albany had his membership revoked from the Twin Rivers Council when it was learned that he was gay. Hayes founded the Capital District Coalition for Inclusive Scouting and has been working to get the policy repealed.

"I received a phone call about an hour after the meeting from one of my coalition members. He told me what had happened as I stood there in disbelief. It's hard to describe how I was feeling--sort of shocked and overjoyed at the same time," said Hayes. "At that moment I knew that everything I had been through over the last 6 months was worth it. It gave me a renewed spirit to continue working for inclusive Scouting."

Hayes went on to explain how there are a lot of people within the Scouting organization that support his work. Many of them are afraid if they speak out, they will have their membership revoked as well. "Hopefully the formation of this committee will help those quiet supporters find their voices."




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