Debate on gays in Boy Scouts unfolds; Yuba-Sutter weighs in
An assistant scoutmaster in Yuba County opposes the national Boy Scouts of America reviewing its policy excluding gays from membership — while a local gay activist supports the change.
"It's been God and country for more than a hundred years," said Dean Ellyson, who works with a troop in Loma Rica.
"I hate to see anybody water down their principles. I like the old, standard way."
But Yuba City resident Steve Schoup, a gay rights activist, called the national Boy Scouts office review a step in the right direction.
"There's a shadow of cowardice in that they're not requiring units to accept LBGT's," Schoup added of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender scouts.
The national council for the Boy Scouts of America in a release said it's discussing removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.
The anticipated policy change from the iconic American organization would seem to cap a wave of growing acceptance of homosexuality across the US, a year after the military accepted openly gay soldiers for the first time and a growing number of states have legalized gay marriage.
The ban on gays, which the US Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in 2000, has provoked a multitude of protest campaigns over the years. Numerous Scout councils and Scout leaders disagree with the policy, and some corporate donors last year said they were suspending gifts to the Boy Scouts until the policy changed.
Robert Mowers, a Yuba City scoutmaster, said the national board for the Scouts meets this week to further discuss the issue and then decide.
"The board could do a number of things (this) week," Mowers said. "One option would be to discuss and table for further review. Others include deciding to stay with the current policy, adopt the policy as written, or adopt a modified policy."
Randy Thomasson, president of Sacramento-based SaveCalifornia.com, which he says promotes moral virtues for the common good, opposes a change in the policy. Men who are attracted to males shouldn't take boys on camping trips, he said.
People who oppose the Boy Scouts policy on gay membership should start an organization of their own, Thomasson said.
But critics can't tolerate the Scouts as they are now organized, Thomasson said, and instead take on the organization.
"The new 'tolerance' is: I will force you to agree. You must agree or you will be punished," he said.
Schoup said starting a separate, new group for gays would involve youths having to give up the teaching and knowledge they've gained and go to a new, strange organization.
"Most of these kids have grown up in the Scouts. That's all they know," he said.
The gay activist said while the San Francisco Bay Area, along with Washington and Oregon, will allow local units to admit gays, the outcome may be different in the Midwest.
"The core of the Boy Scouts is really in the middle of the United States," Schoup said.
What follows with the national scouting organization and its review of the membership policy will be compelling, said the Yuba City resident.
"It'll be interesting to watch it all unfold," he said.
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy. The Associated Press contributed to this report.