February 6, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Carney questioned on Boy Scouts, benefits for gay troops
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answers questions at the White House daily briefing

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took questions on the Boy Scouts and extending benefits for gay troops (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had little to say on Wednesday in response to questions on LGBT issues from a trio of reporters — referring to previously stated remarks from himself and President Obama.

Under questioning from the Associated Press, Carney had no response to the decision to delay until May the Boy Scouts of America board vote on whether to lift the ban on openly gay members. Instead, Carney referred to the interview Obama gave Sunday on CBS News in which he said the organization should change its policy:

Associated Press: Does the White House have any response to the Boy Scouts delaying their decision on allowing gay members and leaders?

Jay Carney: We have no response. I don’t have a response to their process. You know that the President believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century.  He also, as you know, opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such believes, as he said just on Sunday, that gay Americans ought to be able to participate in the Boy Scouts.

But in terms of the process of their evaluation of their policies, I don’t have a comment.

Fox News’ Ed Henry asked Carney to elaborate on the evolution on Obama’s views regarding anti-gay discrimination — noting the President came out for same-sex marriage, but didn’t support it in 2009.

Carney referred to the interview Obama gave last year to ABC News when he came out for marriage equality. Under further questioning, Carney observed that nation’s evolution as a whole on LGBT issues in recent years.

Fox News: Last thing is on the Boy Scouts. When you were asked about it before you said that the President was motivated in large part because he opposes discrimination in all forms, of course. He believed the same about discrimination in 2009, I assume, and yet was against same-sex marriage. What has driven his evolution on issues like same-sex marriage?

Jay Carney: I think the President gave a lengthy interview about just this very topic to Robin Roberts last year, so I would point you to his comments about his evolution.

Fox News: But he opposed discrimination — is it because of public sentiment changing so much over the last decade?

Carney: Well, again, I would — for his personal evolution, a term that he used — I would point you to his words. I think that there’s no question, as many have written about and commented on, that our country has as a whole evolved significantly in our view, the public’s view, of these matters. And the President believes that’s a very good thing.

Finally, in response to questioning from National Public Radio’s Ari Shapiro, Carney had no comment on media reports that the Pentagon would this week make an announcement on extending limited partner benefits to service members.

National Public Radio: The Pentagon is expected this week to announce same-sex — benefits for same-sex spouses, rather. A group in Congress has been open about pushing the Defense Secretary to do this. Was the White House involved in pushing the Pentagon to do this, and do you have any reaction to the step that is expected?

Jay Carney: I think I would refer you to the Pentagon for an announcement that they haven’t made yet. So I don’t have anything for you on that at this point.

NPR: Are you pleased to hear that it’s going to happen?

Carney: Well, I think in answer to questions I’ve had previously, the president has been very attentive to this issue and believes that it needs to be addressed. So I don’t want to get ahead of any announcements, but it is certainly something that has been on the president’s radar and that he believes needed to be and needs to be addressed.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • As a former Boy Scout, I wish to remind the Scouts’ leadership of the motto I was taught: Be Prepared. Too bad they weren’t prepared to make a decision to finally lift the ban on gays. Sheesh.

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