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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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PFLAG Award to Congressman Pete Stark

The Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Fremont /East Bay, Presents A "Friend of our Children" Award to The Honorable Pete Stark For His Efforts on Behalf of Our Gay and Lesbian Children, Particularly our Children in Scouting

April 28, 2001

Most of you are quite familiar with Congressman Stark, but for those of you from outside the East Bay area, let me tell you a little about him. Congressman Stark has represented the 13th Congressional District of California since 1973. This diverse district stretchs along the east side of the San Francisco Bay from Oakland to San Jose. He is a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee; he was Chairman of its Health Subcommittee between 1985 and 1994, and he is currently
ranking minority member on the Subcommittee.

On that committee he has been instrumental in providing COBRA health continuation benefits to younger workers, and in making numerous improvements in the quality of the nation's health care. He continues today to be Congress's most vocal advocate for universal health coverage, so that all Americans might one day enjoy the health care benefits that Congress itself enjoys.

Throughout his career in Congress, Stark has been a consistent advocate for human rights, and a tireless advocate for children, for the elderly and disabled, and for workers in our Tri-Cities area.

We, the parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays, are here tonight to honor him for his work on behalf of equal rights for all, but particularly in recognition of his campaign for the fair treatment of our gay and lesbian children.

You may be aware of the recent controversy over the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) new exclusionary policy of discrimination against gay youth. Pete Stark's role in this controversy is but one example of his tireless efforts on behalf of equal rights for all, even when it involves taking an unpopular stand on a controversial issue.

Representative Stark, along with only six other members of the House, publicly opposed the BSA's discriminatory policy, telling the national office of the BSA that if they claim to be a private, exclusionary club, they should live by that decision, and forfeit their Federal charter.

You are all familiar with scouting. Since its creation by a gay man, Lord Baden-Powell, scouting has become the largest voluntary youth movement in the world. Worldwide, between two and three million gay and lesbian children are scouts. (Yes, young women are welcomed in many of the world's scouting organizations).

In the US there are approximately one half million gay youth in scouting, and about a hundred thousand gay and lesbian adult leaders. In the year 2000, the Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 90th anniversary. It has cumulatively served over ten million gay youth. A few of them are in this room tonight.

They will attest to you that scouting is a great program: it's an educational program that builds character, trains youth in the
responsibilities of citizenship, and develops personal fitness. Scouting teaches the core values of duty, personal honor, respect for the beliefs of others, volunteerism, and interdependence with the environment - principles that build character, citizenship, and health.

To be sure, Scouting is about outdoor adventure and having fun with friends. But it's also much more. It's a program designed to instill self-discipline, self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-worth - qualities that last a lifetime - important qualities no matter what one's sexual orientation. The mission of Scouting is to prepare youth to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. In recognition of Scouting's contributions to all of our nation's children, the BSA has been federally chartered since 1916.

For much of its history, and following Baden-Powell's example, Scouting has been a model for inclusiveness, celebrating the intrinsic value of all children, regard to their their race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. But recently the BSA national organization has embraced quite a different official policy - it now officially excludes our gay youth and adult leaders.

Those of you who were, or are Scouts, are familiar with the Scout Law. While it was originated by a gay man, the values it espouses are not exclusively gay values. They are universal values, values that bring out the best in all of us. The Scout Law - that a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent - should apply to all.

But the national organization has lost sight of the simple truths that:

Gay Scouts are also Trustworthy, Loyal, and Helpful;
They are Friendly, Courteous, and Kind;
Gay Scouts are Obedient, Cheerful, and Thrifty;
They, too, are Brave, Clean and Reverent.

While the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America has lost sight of the Scout Law, Pete Stark has not. Together with
Representative Lynn Woolsey of Marin, and five other house members, he introduced into the House of Representatives the "Scouting for All" Act, that would repeal the BSA's federal charter. (July 19, 2000)

Federal charters are prestigious distinctions awarded to organizations with a patriotic, charitable, or educational purpose. They imply Government support. Representative Stark contends that as long as the BSA sets an example of intolerance through its discriminatory policy regarding sexual orientation, the Federal government should not support it; the BSA charter should be repealed.

In an extraordinary maneuver in which the "Scouting for All" bill was brought to vote with no committee or house discussion, the bill went down in flames. But Represenatative Stark is no stranger to such "failure". As a congressman he has been willing to take stands on issues without regard to political expediency, but simply because it is the right thing to do. His willingness to do what is right, in defense of a minority, irrespective of the political consequences, exemplifies Scouting's highest values, and is what used to be meant by "morally straight".

It is because Pete Stark proactively, consistently, and vocally does the right thing for our families that we are honored here tonight to recognize his efforts with this "Friend of Our Children" Award.

Thank you so much, Representative Stark, from the families of PFLAG Fremont/East Bay




Scouting For All is not an alternative scouting program.
We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

Any communications sent to Scouting for All or any Scouting for All representative may be published on the Scouting for All web site or in Scouting for All materials unless the communication specifically requests that it not be published.

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