As an Eagle Scout, I learned what Boy Scouts are:
They are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
But, if they’re all those things, can they also be gay?
Until now, absolutely not, at least not openly. That may soon change, as early as today.
The Scouts are finally considering joining the modern era, one where gays are — for most people, at least — equal members of all parts of our society.
The Scouts are actively considering allowing openly gay young men to become Scouts and openly gay adult men to be Scout leaders, depending on the approval of the troop sponsor, such as a church.
Thank goodness, at least they are considering this major step.
It has been an embarrassment for such archaic rules to stand for community in an organization that asks its young men to consider others.
Gays can openly serve now in our military. Gays can be married in some states in our country. Gays can adopt children. Gays are protected under U.S. some civil rights laws.
It is only natural, and logical, to allow a young man who is gay to put on the Scout uniform, learn to tie all the knots, salute and to “Be Prepared.”
For those who oppose this shift, they had better consider how history will judge them.
It was not that long ago that women were not allowed to be members of Rotary Clubs. I wrote a column criticizing that bigotry, and I ran into a buzz saw at my Overland Park Rotary Club. Members came up to me and said things like, “Why do you want to spoil a good thing?”
Shortly after that column appeared, in 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that women could not be denied membership in Rotary, because it was not an “exclusive” club and denied women the opportunity to network with others with whom they might conduct business.
As soon as the ruling passed, I nominated The Sun Newspapers editor, Judy Katz, for membership.
It is difficult to believe what happened next.
When I sat down at a table of eight, no one at the table would speak to me. That is a true story.
Today, of course, women make up a large part of all Rotary Clubs. In fact, were it not for women being allowed in, many clubs would founder.
In retrospect, that episode seems as odious as were the laws making interracial marriage a criminal act. Those laws were found unconstitutional only as recently as 1967.
A decade from now, or sooner, the idea that the Boy Scouts banned gays in the 21st century will seem totally preposterous.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also an Eagle Scout, is taking the lead in the movement to continue to ban gays from Scouting.
Our own Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who idolizes Perry, said in 2007 that he was strongly opposed to allowing gays in the Boy Scouts. Unless he has changed his mind, or I missed an updated statement, it makes our “compassionate conservative” governor seem like a hypocrite.
“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”
So says the mission of the Boy Scouts.
To allow all men to join the ranks of the Boy Scouts is part of that duty.
| Special to The Star