GAY50 Commentary – Yesterday in Atlanta, Robert Gates, President of the Boy Scouts of America, called for an end to the ban on gay scout leaders.
In his comments, citing societies changing attitude towards gays, the former Secretary of Defense stated “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.”
Gates made it clear that the ban on gay leaders is going to fall, either through common-sense leadership from BSOA or by court ruling.
While I applaud Gates for calling for an end to the ban, his comments appear to be more about avoiding expensive court battles than changing the status quo.
I am afraid Mr. Gates missed an excellent opportunity to speak from experience and prove that recognition of gays doesn’t upset the flow of society, but only opens up the experience to anyone who has an interest in being a leader and help shape the values of our society.
As the Secretary of Defense, when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was abolished, Gates could have helped those within the scouting community gracefully accept and embrace the change, he didn’t. While some are afraid of the change for lack of knowledge, Gates could have helped ease their reticence, he didn’t.
Robert Gates is a proven leader, in this instance he failed.
A change in attitude and policy at BSOA is necessary, it will be good when the organization accepts gay leaders into the ranks. I predict a smooth transition and far less outcry than is feared.
Once the change in policy is made, then, as has been the case throughout history, it will be important for us as gay men who decide to become scout leaders to help enforce a change in attitude through our actions.
Below is the full speech calling for the policy change.