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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Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ, Madison, WI says no to the Boy Scouts of America: refuses
to sponsor bigotry
The Capital Times news, Madison, Wisconsin
Scouts' gay woes spread
Church here severs tie to groupBy Pat Schneider
February 13, 2001
The Supreme Court says it's OK for the Boy Scouts of America to discriminate against homosexuals, but members of
the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ in Madison don't agree.The southwest side church has withdrawn its sponsorship
of a Boy Scout troop because of the national organization's policy excluding gay Scouts and leaders."The Scouting
policy is inconsistent with our policy of affirming and welcoming gay and lesbian people," said the Rev. Winton
Boyd, pastor of the congregation.The move, taken in January, was difficult, but the congregation's board of directors
felt it was necessary, Boyd said, despite a policy statement by the local Four Lakes Council similar to the U.S.
Army's "don't ask, don't tell" approach."We welcome people to be 'out,' we are affirming of them
being out," said Boyd. "We can't turn around and say, 'We won't tell.'
"Pressure on the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on homosexuals has been building through packs and troops
across the country following a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that found the organization did not illegally
discriminate by barring gays.United Way organizations in some areas traditionally majorfunders of Scouting groups,
including the local Four Lakes Council are reconsidering or withdrawing financial support.The United Way of Dane
County has adopted a nondiscrimination policy that calls for determining whether the targeting of services to certain
groups by funded agencies is reasonably related to providing services. What the result of the new policy will mean
for United Way funding of the Four Lakes Council won't be known for several weeks at least.
The Four Lakes Council's board of directors in September adopted a policy endorsing tolerance and diversity within
the Scouting ranks and stating that prospective youth members and adult leaders are not asked about their sexual
preference."We allow youth to live as children and enjoy Scouting and its diversity without immersing them
in the politics of the day," reads the policy.
But sponsors of some area Boy Scout troops and packs, and parents of the boys participating in them, are going
on record against the ban on participation by homosexuals.The First Congregational Church, also a United Church
of Christ, is considering surrendering its sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop after 80 years to protest the organization's
ban."We are very concerned," Jerry Hancock of the church's board of directors said of the Boy Scouts'
policy. As a congregation consciously dedicated to welcoming gay and lesbian members, congregants felt "an
obligation to be very explicit and public that we are proud to be that kind of church and that other institutions
should be open to all people as well," Hancock said.
Hancock characterized the reaction of leaders of the local troop as "heart-stricken." "They have
always made clear to the church they did not discriminate and have sponsored resolutions to the local organization
against discrimination. We are trying to find some way to continue the relationship with the troop," he said.
In Orchard Ridge, the local neighborhood association has assumed sponsorship of the troop Scouting rules require
troops and packs to have a sponsoring organization and troop members continue to meet in the church building."We
wanted to back up Scouting for the kids' sake and leave the politics behind," said Scott Peters, president
of the Orchard Ridge Community Club.
Parents of a Cub Scout den on the near west side were ready to withdraw their boys from the organization in protest
of its ban on gays, but decided earlier this month to try to press the national organization for a change in policy
instead."We were persuaded that if we were interested in working for change on the issue and fighting the
principle (on homosexuality) from the national organization, we would work more effectively from within,"
said Steve Nadler, a UW-Madison philosophy professor whose son is a member of Den 4 of Cub Scout Pack 302, which
meets at Randall Elementary School.
Nadler said that if the Scouting organization wants to teach boys about values, the question of sexual orientation
gives it a great opportunity."Why not openly discuss values, especially the value of tolerance? If this is
a learning experience, let's teach kid about the value of differences," Nadler said.
Strategies being discussed by Den 4 parents include participating in an AIDS march and writing Scouting officials
to press for a change in policy. Already, the sponsors of Pack 302 have sent Four Lakes Council a statement that
they do not believe Scouting laws can be interpreted to mean that Scouting should discriminate on the basis of
sexual orientation."We believe that sexual orientation is irrelevant to a person's ability and fitness to
be a moral and ethical role model as set forth in the Scout oath and the Scout law, and therefore do not discriminate
on any basis whatsoever," wrote members of the board of the Franklin-Randall Parent-Teacher Organization,
which holds the Scouting charter for the groups based at the schools.
At Frank Allis school on the city's east side, members of the Parent-Teacher Association were to meet tonight to
discuss whether to continue to sponsor a Scout troop.Chuck Dobbins, Scouting executive for the Four Lakes Council,
said protests against the Scouting policy on homosexuals have taken every form from formal statements to a former
Scout's return of his merit badge sash."But most of the phone calls I get are very much in our favor,"
said Dobbins. "There's been a tremendous amount of support for us."One sign of that support was evident
Monday night at the Sun Prairie School Board meeting, where about 75 local Boy and Cub Scouts and leaders turned
out to receive the backing of the School Board. Board member Mike Matzke had invited the Scouts in an effort to
distinguish Sun Prairie's boardfrom the Madison School Board, which recently condemned the Boy Scouts of America
for excluding gays.Dobbins said the Four Lakes Council is ahead of schedule on its $3.5 million capital campaign
for camping facilities launched last fall. "We've gotten support from some who say they don't agree with the
policy on homosexuals but value Scouting's contributions to the community," Dobbins said.
Scouting's prohibition on homosexuality is imbedded in Boy Scout laws all members must adhere to, including one
to "keep myself clean and morally straight," Dobbins said. The wording of the 90-year-old law is interpreted
to outlaw gays, he said. A Boy Scout pledge to fulfill "duty to God," is construed by the national organization
as outlawing membership by atheists, Dobbins added.
The Supreme Court ruling last year did not change the Scouting laws, Dobbins said. "Maybe it heightened people's
awareness of it, but we've been saying for years it is our right to hold these things sacred."Hancock, of
First Congregational Church, who is an attorney, said he is troubled by the lengths to which the national Scouting
leadership went to establish its right to discriminate."These are very important issues," he said. "You
wouldn't have though that the question of whether to recharter a Boy Scout troop would have such powerful implications.
But our church believes God's love extends to people of all sexual orientations."