The future of the Boy Scouts is on the line. Left-wing activists have made overturning the youth organization's traditional values a priority, and the national leadership will decide in May whether to cave to the pressure and celebrate homosexuality as a moral value for the nation's boys.
Attempts to influence this pivotal decision illustrate the nation's cultural divide, writ large. In deep-blue California, state Sen. Ricardo Lara, a Democrat who celebrates his own homosexuality, proposes legislative extortion. He has introduced a bill to strip the state tax-exempt status of the Scouts and any other youth organization in the state that bars participation by open homosexuals.
Meanwhile, in Texas, about 65 state and local elected officials have written an open letter urging the Scouts "to stick with their decades of support for family values and moral principles," arguing that "capitulating to the liberal social agenda not only undermines the very principles of Scouting, but sets the stage for the erosion of an organization that has defined the American experience for generations of young men." Gov. Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout, added his voice in support of traditional values.
Scouts begin each gathering with an oath "to do my duty to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." That oath must be discarded if the national board of directors surrenders when it meets in May. One compromise plan would allow each troop or chartering organization to accept homosexuals or not, as they see fit. This misguided appeasement is fraught with peril, as appeasement always is, as it would throw to the wolves the troops and organizations, many church-based, that stick with the Scouts' traditional values.
Left to defend themselves from legal attacks by the lavender left, these churches and other chartering entities would likely abandon Scouting altogether. This would be particularly devastating in the inner cities. For many urban, at-risk youths, Scouting is their only exposure to the values it inculcates. A Scout is "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent." These values are not always attractive to homosexual activists, who are happy to sacrifice straight youths in the name of political correctness.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, upheld the Scouts' ban on homosexuals in June 2000, specifically citing the First Amendment right to freedom of association, allowing private organizations such as the Boy Scouts to exclude a person from membership when "the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group's ability to advocate public or private viewpoints."
In their 5-4 ruling, the justices held that opposition to homosexuality is part of the Scouts' "expressive message" and that forcing them to accept homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message.
Rather than trample the Scouts' religious and associational freedoms, as Mr. Lara advocates in California, homosexuals are free to create their own parallel, scout-like organization with any set of values they wish. They could call them the Gay Caballeros or such names that might appeal to young boys. The Boy Scouts of America should stick to the "morally straight" values that have served the nation and the Scouts well since 1910.
The Washington Times
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