As America descends into a level of partisan bickering previously unseen on Planet Earth in recorded history, it would appear that the two likely candidates for November’s showdown — President Barack Obama and Not President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney — can agree on one thing. And a pretty surprising thing at that, which is the Boy Scouts of America’s policy on gay people and their troops.
While Obama’s position is in line with what we are coming to expect from the Democratic platform ahead of the DNC, Romney’s feels nearly risky in such polarized political times and when gay rights have become such a lightning rod of division in the political landscape.
President Barack Obama, who is Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America — a tradition for sitting Presidents — affirmed that he believes that gay scouts and leaders should be allowed to serve the organization openly, contrary to current policy barring openly gay Boy Scouts and leaders.
Yesterday, in a statement to the Washington Blade, White House spokesperson Shin Inouye addressed the issue, saying:
“The President believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.”
Earlier in the week, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, more commonly known as GLAAD, publicized comments Mitt Romney made back in 1994 on the issue of gay scouting. Romney, who has served the organization in the past, said back then:
“I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”
When the footage began to recirculate, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul confirmed that the presumptive GOP candidate’s position on gay scouts had not changed and that he felt all scouts leaders should be allowed to serve regardless of their sexual orientation.
Scouts For Equality co-founder and Eagle Scout Zach Wahls commented on the issue, saying that the fact that both camps could come together on the issue of gay scouts and leaders in a time when very little is agreed upon between parties speaks volumes:
“I couldn’t agree more with President Obama about how important the BSA is to this country’s young men and am proud to have his support… The fact that the Presidential candidates of both major American parties have come together to oppose the BSA’s anti-gay policy in the most polarized political climate since Reconstruction speaks volumes about both the moral validity and critical importance of ending the ban. It’s no surprise that the leader of the free world is willing to advocate for a little more freedom within the BSA.”
Do you agree with both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney that the ban on gay Boy Scouts and gay Boy Scout leaders should have been already lifted?