- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has been elected to the national leadership board of Boy Scouts of America and also will serve as national president-elect, the organization said Wednesday.

An Eagle Scout himself, Mr. Gates, who is also a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has served in the administrations of four presidents of both political parties. He was secretary of defense under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

During his tenure under Mr. Obama, Mr. Gates called for an end to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevented open homosexuals from serving in the U.S. armed forces. This year, the BSA took a similar path: In May, more than 60 percent of the BSA’s National Council approved a proposal to permit openly gay youth to join Scouts.

The BSA retained its ban on openly gay adult volunteers, leaders and employees.

The fight over gays in Scouting has driven an significant but unknown number of Scouting units to join other organizations, and a new group for boys called Trail Life USA was formed in September.

Other key BSA leaders are Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock and National Commissioner Tico Perez. The current BSA President is Wayne Perry.

Mr. Gates‘ appointment was recommended by a BSA nominating committee and other leaders, the BSA said in a statement. The move means that, upon approval of voting members of the National Council, Mr. Gates would begin a two-year term as the BSA national president in May 2014, it said.

The BSA serves about 2.6 million youth members.

“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America. As an Eagle Scout, I know first-hand how impactful this program can be and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before,” Mr. Gates said.

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