August 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Obama opposes Boy Scouts ban on gays

(Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Obama opposes the recently affirmed Boy Scouts policy of banning gay members, according to a statement from the White House sent in response to a Blade inquiry.

“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,” White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said in the statement. “He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.”

In a follow-up email, Inouye said Obama won’t resign or relinquish his position as honorary president of the Boy Scouts as result of this position.

The Boy Scouts of America affirmed its gay ban last month after a two-year review of the policy.


Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesperson, said his organization respects the opinion of the president and believes good people can personally disagree on the issue.

“The Boy Scouts of America respects the opinions of President Obama and appreciates his recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization,” Smith said. “We believe that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”

Among the organizations working to lift the ban is the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which has been championing the issue after lesbian den leader Jennifer Tyrrell was expelled from the organization ostensibly because of her sexual orientation.

Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s president, responded to the White House statement by saying numerous political leaders have come out against the ban prohibiting openly gay people from being in the Boy Scouts.

“Our nation’s leaders from across religions and political persuasions have joined hundreds of thousands of Americans in speaking out against the blatant discrimination that the Boy Scouts of America teaches young adults today,” Graddick said. “It’s clear that this outdated policy will be changing in the future. How long will the Boy Scouts continue to bully young gay Americans into hiding who they are and hurt children of gay parents by denying their parents an opportunity to participate in their children’s lives?”

Zach Wahls, the co-founder of Scouts for Equality who gained notoriety for speaking out against the repeal of marriage equality in Iowa, praised Obama.

“I couldn’t agree more with President Obama about how important the BSA is to this country’s young men and am proud to have his support,” Wahls said. “The fact that the Presidential candidates of both major American parties have come together to oppose the BSA’s anti-gay policy in the most polarized political climate since Reconstruction speaks volumes about both the moral validity and critical importance of ending the ban. It’s no surprise that the leader of the free world is willing to advocate for a little more freedom within the BSA.”

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign told the Associated Press on Saturday that Romney holds the same position on admitting gays to the Boy Scouts that he did in 1994, when he said, “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Opponents of the ban have since used Romney’s statement to denounce the Boy Scouts policy.

“[Mitt Romney’s] leadership is to be commended, and we hope he can set an example of how people with differing religious beliefs can come together to support the Boy Scouts of America’s mission to serve our communities and develop tomorrow’s leaders, regardless of sexual orientation,” said Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality, in a statement.

NOTE: This post has been updated to include more reactions.

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

  • Well, I’m happy he made a statement about this! At last. Thank you, Mr President. Now, if any gay folks out there are still considering voting for Romney, why don’t you ask him to re-affirm what he said back when he was running for the US Senate against Ted Kennedy, something about being more gay friendly than Kennedy? I don’t remember. But I bet if you get to ask him in a debate, maybe one of you gay Eagle scouts could stand up and ask Romney. Just a suggestion.

    • I am happy that the president came out against the BSA discriminatory policy against gay and non-theist children and adults. Scouting For All has been opposing this policy for more than 15 years. It is now time for the president to back up his statement by telling the BSA that he can no longer act as honorary president of BSA. This is a post that all presidents ore offered and it would cement his view if he were to step down from that position.

    • I support the boy scout ban.

      For nearly a century, the Boy Scouts of America has relied on a confidential blacklist known as the “perversion files” as a crucial line of defense against sexual predators.

      Scouting officials say they’ve used the files to prevent hundreds of men who had been expelled for alleged sexual abuse from returning to the ranks. They’ve fought hard in court to keep the records from public view, saying confidentiality was needed to protect victims, witnesses and anyone falsely accused.,,,,0,5822319.story

    • thank you mr president? really? really?!?

      our brave president denounces the boy scout’s ban on gays, yet he retains his honorary title as head of the organization. so he denounces the position of an organization he is the honorary head of, remains in the position, and you thank him for it?

      guess what John? 10 year old boys who disagreed with the boy scouts ban were ‘braver’ than dear leader. they QUIT.

      oh, and one last tid bit for you…. Romney opposed the boy scouts ban on gays long before dear leader.

  • I am due on oct 22nd with my first child a son and I would love for him to be able to join an organization like boy scouts, but not if that organization discriminates. I hate any kind of discrimination.

    • You got it all wrong. It is not discrimination. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are two dif. organizations. Private organizations. One for boys and one for girls. Why would we have distraction in the camps with boys having to deal with other boys liking them? they are not there to deal with love issues or sexual issues, they are there to learn life skills. Allowing gay boys to be open about their sexual preference in camps is teh same as allowing girls to join.

  • well im glad obama is making a move like this. this shows that our president supports ALL people no matter color religion and sexual orientation. this proves that he is willing to make a change so everyone can be happy!

    • if the president truly supports gays, then why does he remain as the honorary head of the boy scouts? why did he not resign? actions speak louder than words stacy.

      yet you give dear leader accolades for it…. interesting.

  • Thank god the President has time to be worrying about these statements and things of this nature instead of our countries current economic standpoint

    • You said gay peop;e are as evil as straight people. I say more evil because they are a perversion of nature and they rebel against the norm. It is clearly apparent men are physically made to mate with a woman based on our anatomy and reproduction. Just think if everyone was suddenly gay it would be the last generation of people and humans would die without reproducing. EXTINCTION!!!!!!!!!

      • Ooooh. That’s a real scare ’em scenario, Normal — complete with scary all-caps.

        But you’re discounting the procreative power of bisexual couples. Also, many lesbians would welcome making babies with the assistance of their lesbian wives. Their gay male friends and/or partners’ siblings would happily provide nature’s abundantly ‘normal’ juices.

        See. Not-so-scary scenario. So relax.

    • George, fortunately our President has the capability of walking and chewing gum at the same time, unlike many political leaders on the Republican side of the fence.

  • i was a boy scout, hard worker, enjoyed learning and doing tasks….there were several gay boys in the troop i was children do, kid around and charge this and that..i quit the boy scouts because i was sick of the group attitude to do gay things when no adults were around…i was harrassed and lured by gay kids, that everyone does it and no one cares…to those who think its not polically correct to accept gay people, you should realize some gay people are as evil and disrespectful as straight people and to think they are not is completely this day i respect all people, but not predators gay or straight.

  • As a straight Eagle Scout, I totally agree with the president on this. Scouting was one of the most positive influences I’ve ever had in my life. The Scout Law is:

    A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

    Scouting taught me about civic participation, volunteering, self sufficience, accountability, leadership, team work, travel, nature, conservation, and so much more. These are great values to learn for young men of any sexual identity.

  • President Obama does the RIGHT THING; as a Constitutional Lawyer he has changed the way we no longer tolerate in giving organizations the freedom to discriminate. The Boy Scouts of America promises that all youth are to be protected and in fact claims protection from pedophiles. One of its policies states: The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on creating the most secure environment possible for our youth members. Then it turns around and discriminates against gay youth; recently there was a reporting of BSA whose leaders were accused of sexually abusing their youth, and BSA protected in hidden secret files. President Obama is a leader with a backbone, a clear message and knows the Constitution.

  • Scouting is a private organization with specific values that it upholds. It does not teach anything of a sexual nature. I think young people get enough of a dose of that in the public schools and in the media. Scouting is about accomplishments, leadership, survival and respect for nature. It is an asexual environment. So when you sexualize it in any way – you have violated the scout laws. I would suggest that people who are interested in introducing any sexual component into accomplishments, leadership, survival and respect for nature might start an organization that has those components – along with the sexual ones. The President was not a Scout, and I do not think he values Scouting.

    • Private? Not really. They are funded almost exclusively by the Mormon FLDS… and therefore are required to remain gay-free. That is basically the Mormon mandate. Of course, if you disagree, please look it up and post commentary to the contrary.

  • Isn’t it interesting that since the BSA banned gays from their private organization you don’t really hear about boyscouts being molested anymore. There was a damn good reason for the ban, it still applies. If gays want access to little boys they can try to infiltrate the Catholic Church again.

  • Gays already have their own group – the Democratic Pary. Leave the Scouts alone.

  • should we also disdain the BSA for discriminating against beastiality? It is a choice, like choosing the perverse lifestyle of being gay. Liberals, your time is up.

  • In defense of the Boy Scouts of America, the homosexual lifestyle choice is not the only ‘sexual sin’ that would get one kicked out of the scout. The BSA is largely chartered in churches who have moral objections to the homosexual lifestyle choice. Therefore it is only right that the ban is continued. The only bullying, bigotry, and intolerance I have seen in regards to this issue is from the Gay and Lesbian Community towards the BSA. They seek to weed society of any thought that dares to disapprove of their sexual lifestyle choice, which further makes me strongly question whether or not gays or lesbians actually approve of themselves.

    • A choice? You mean I went to the booth, read the brochures, met the nice people, and then I signed up? How could I have done that at the age of three? For many gay people, their sexual preference is heterosexuality, but it turns out that heterosexuality is not a choice. I went through that. My orientation overcame my preference. Now I wouldn’t be heterosexual even if I could. I don’t want to be like you. Anyway, have you noticed how horrible heterosexuality is? One hundred percent of all abortions result from a heterosexual act.

  • The Mormon Church heavily funds the boy scouts and they will pull that funding if gays are allowed in any way, shape or form into the boy scouts. This is well documented. Look it up.

  • They are both the devil! tell me! why is sexual orientation an issue for kids!? It must not be! Kids should be left out of these sexual debates! These people are just making kids confused! Leave the Boy Scouts alone! Leave sex out of the Boy Scouts!

  • The Boy Scouts KNOW that if they allow gay boy scouts, 80% of parents and supporters will withdraw their children and support.

    This is a case where people who believe it’s discrimination to ban Gay men from serving as scout leaders are just plain wrong. Gay men should NOT be Scout Leaders. For the same reason that you don’t allow your fourteen year old daughter to go camping with the nice heterosexual man next door. It’s the same reason that you don’t let your teen age son hang out at the gay guys house who lives down the block or have sleep overs. Because you’re looking out for their best interests you ignore what the politically correct, rah, rah crowd is spouting and you do what is best for you child. End of Story.

    Posted by: Janie S. | August 9, 2012, 12:09 am 12:09 am

  • The objective is to present information and activities that produce and support strong ideals for youth, not to occupy time and identity with the obsession of specific sexualities. Perhaps one of the greatest points of an activity like the scouts is the distraction of participants from sexuality, even if just briefly, by the program content.

    Wrong for them to take a negative over how one wishes to deploy their engorged privates? Might actually represent civility which has been gone for a while in the public eye. Not much concern for the avoidance of members who are sexually active (at 14years?) in other ways.

    This has spun enough, particularly if the WH has taken it on. That makes it an official distraction: “I’m the president, my record is awful, and I support gays in the Boy Scouts”. Wonder how he feels about smaller, more select groups where his “do what I say” rules apply, like with his daughters?

  • Don’t kid yourselves, Obama is just looking for the gay vote….he does not give a crap about scout values or morailty….or the gay community.

    • I don’t think so. Obama knows that voters who hate gays outnumber voters who are gays. Every time gay rights is put up to a vote, gays lose the popularity contest.

  • As an Eagle scout, I’m glad my kids won’t be abused by gay adults in scouts. Keep your pesos out of our organization!

  • BSA has every right to set the standard for their organization. If gays want to join a group, then create one. There has been some pushback to the Girl Scouts and there are groups forming to counter their standards. Not easy but certainly better than trying to destroy an existing organization.

    • Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, is no longer qualified to be a scout leader. He was gay. Ironic, that gays are not permitted in a gay organization.

  • The Boy Scouts have pubescent and prepubescent boys as members. Imagine a boy who has late onset of puberty. He’s heterosexual, but he can’t know that yet. Because he is developmentally a little behind the other boys and not quite interested in girls yet, the other boys taunt him. The taunting isn’t bad, but the internal distress is. Now comes the Boy Scout policy that effectively tells him, “You could have a secret that would make me stop loving you, and if you tell me about it, I will throw you out, ridicule you in front of all your friends, and tell your parents.” That’s enough to send a kid into the backyard with a rope.

    Even if the BSA believes that gay scouts are valueless, they have to rescind this policy, because it has a disastrous effect on their treasured heterosexual scouts.

    The BSA bans atheists, also. They only know if a kid is an atheist when he identifies himself as one. The honest kids who admit they are atheists are unclean, but the hypocrites who profess faith in God but practice atheism are kosher. How sick.

    These policies remind me of Elmer Fudd, whose gun is pointed at Bugs Bunny, but he only shoots himself.

  • It’s nice to see such a show of support for the BSA and American values int the Blade.

  • I used to always respect the US President. But with what “Mr. Oboma” has said and done, I cannot respect him. Like someone else said, Oboma already has his own gay organization (his party). He needs to stop trying to be God and do his job.

  • i am 76 years old. i was it the boy scouts and was proud of it. it was part of the church and their belief. the boy scout tought me god. and his comanments. and to do good things.. to me man sleeping with man @ woman sleeping with woman is a sin, i do not want my kids or grand kids to be exposed to this kind of thinking, . where do you get your children the scouts of america hold your ground. keep it a christian organiation. to those that want diferent. start your own scouts or what ever you want to call it. we will leave you and your belief alone.. so dont try to change our belief . and leave the boy scouts of america alone . mr president thanks a lot you lost my vote. to the christon people think of what this means. pepper god help us.

    • Interesting John that you are on a gay news site. In response to your post, it isn’t about promoting being gay, rather allowing perfectly qualified people to bring values to children. I am not from the USA, I’m from the UK and we have a policy of allowing gay people to be leaders. I seriously doubt we are corrupting them in anyway. But having met some American Mormons at the WSJ, I found them to very bigoted. Also BSA isn’t an exclusively Christian Organisation, and Scouting has never been so, cast your mind back to end of WW1, and Baden Powell called for peace regardless of religion or race. I’m pretty sure he would spin in his grave to know how the BSA have isolated people from a fantastic movement.

      My Grandad is 83, and seriously shares my views on this, time for America to wake up…

  • While the Boy Scouts is a great organization outside of this issue, the fact that they are teaching discrimination to children is as anti-American as you can get. Either their blatant discrimination needs to end, or they need to be banned from all public facilities and funding. Refuse to allow them to receive public money and bar them from using schools nationwide for their meetings and see how fast they change their minds!

    • I disagree with the president. I think BSA should continue to not allow gay people into it.But saying that this is discrimination is true. They’re discriminating against the BSA for their values. You should respect them for actually holding onto Biblical morals, not tear them down and force them to change. You can not parade around saying that you are intolerant if you don’t support gay rights, because you yourself are being intolerant to those who have values. This ticks me off so much. The BSA is right, get off their back. Tear me down all you want for this, these are my values, and I’m not changing them.

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