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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

From Fox News:

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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Mike Sullivan, Exective Board Member of the Voyageurs Area Council Resigns Out of Protest Over the BSA Policy of exclusion

Below I have a copied my July 4th letter to the Council Executive and fellow Board members.

From: "Michael Sullivan"
July 4, 2000
To: Loran Stach and Voyageurs Area Council Executive Board members

I truly believe in the benefits and ability of the scouting program to build character and values in its leaders and youth. However, the National Boy Scouts of America recent argument before the Supreme Court has led me to express the following.

National Boy Scouts of America fell on their sword when they decided for their Charter Partner sponsors that gays are to be excluded from membership. The obvious solution to who may exclude members is the Scouting groups sponsor, the Charter Partner. Sexual issues and orientation are not part of the Scouting Program and leaders are instructed to refer the matter to the scout's parents. Any teachings, values, and references to sexuality, which are a belief or part of the Charter Partners doctrine, are also matters between the Charter Partner and the scout's parents. The parent can choose to agree or disagree by selecting another sponsor, which better reflects their beliefs.

The National BSA could be spending their resources and energies taking on issues of prejudice, removing hate, and promoting tolerance. Instead they have decided that some of it's non-homophobic Charter Partnering sponsors and Governmental Chartering Partners, which adhere to City, State or Federal laws promoting sexual tolerance, are wrong. These sponsors will be
required to adhere to BSA sexual values and beliefs and expel or exclude gays from their Cub Packs, Scout Troops, and/or Exploring groups if they wish to continue to be a Scouting Charter Partner sponsor.

Scoutings "best" has always been its high standards of promoting tolerance and diversity in building character without prejudice. The message to expel and exclude members who are not BSA "morally straight" is Scout Law and becomes the standard for all leadership and youth.

The fallout from National BSA's decision will impact: funding from donors and United Ways, relations with religious, community and government organizations, leadership organization, resources available to Scouts, and most unfortunately its youth.

To accommodate the diversity of beliefs and satisfy most everyone, BSA needs only to let the Charter Partner Sponsor decide membership requirements. Years of argument and dissension will result in the tearing apart and possible destruction of what was once a youth organization focused on service, leadership and fun.

Therefore, I strongly suggest the Voyageurs Area Council Executive Board move to adopt a policy, which states, " The Charter Partner is to determine the moral fitness of it's Scouting leadership.

Of course my resolution did not pass because it was judged that this Council could, and would not, change National Boy Scout membership requirements. I asked the board to include my July 4th letter in the August 15 meeting minutes.

Because so many board members did not understand BSA's membership policies, I presented membership requirements and the likely repercussions they will set in motion for adult, youth membership, community Voyageur Area Council. I also asked that the following be added to the Sept. 19th board minutes. (see attachment above)

That same week the United Way of Duluth announced it had cut the Boy Scouts funding.

At the Sept. Executive Board meeting a motion was crafted to engage the board in a process which would educate the board on the current issues of membership requirements so that they may make an informed and thoughtful decision on to either support or recommend changes to current membership policies. A facilitator would be brought in to introduce an educational program presented by the gays, religious leaders, diversity and human rights community committees.

A motion was made at the Nov.19th Executive Board meeting to finish this process before the May National meetings so the board would have a timely position statement. However, it was amended and passed, to extend this process through 2002. Four of us voted no to the amended time change because this extension no longer made it a timely issue and sends a message to leadership, youth and community that our current membership policies are acceptable.

I resigned in December as the right course of action is to "Set the Example" to the my fellow board members and scouters.

Mike Sullivan




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