Tessier made history last year at the age of 17 when he became the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout, the scouting organization’s highest-ranking status for a scout. Tessier’s promotion to Eagle Scout came one year after the Boy Scouts of America changed its policy to allow openly gay youth as scouts while retaining its ban on adult gay scout leaders.
“We received this application from this young man, and we found him highly qualified on all the merits,” said Richard G. Mason, a member of the board of the Greater New York Councils, which serves as New York’s chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.
“We have an anti-discrimination policy, we believe in it very firmly, and we are executing on it,” Mason said in a statement last week.
The Human Rights Campaign, which hailed the Greater New York Councils’ decision to hire Tessier, announced in a statement on April 2 that nationally recognized attorney David Boies has agreed to represent Tessier in a possible legal challenge to the Boy Scouts’ policy banning adult scout leaders.
Boies was one of two attorneys who successfully argued the cases challenging bans on same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
He told news media outlets he was hopeful the national Boy Scouts leadership would avert the need for a court fight by not attempting to overturn the Greater New York Councils’ decision to hire Tessier.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who became president of the Boy Scouts of America last year, has said he opposes any further debate on or proposals to end the organization’s ban on gay scout leaders at this time, even though he told Boy Scout officials he personally favored lifting the ban on gay adult leaders.
Gates reportedly has said reopening that issue could split the Boy Scouts of America into two separate groups — one that accepts gay scouts and scout leaders and the other that doesn’t. The two new groups may not be able to survive, Gates reportedly has said.
When asked about the action by the Greater New York Councils, Deron Smith, a spokesperson for Boy Scouts of America, said, “We are looking into the matter,” the Associated Press reported.
“This is a historic day for the Boy Scouts of America — and for the courageous and talented young man, Pascal Tessier, who seeks only to work for the organization that he loves,” said HRC president Chad Griffin in a statement.
“Should he have to fight to do that, he has no greater or more determined legal advocate than David Boies, and together I’m confident that they can ensure that the Boy Scouts is finally fully inclusive of all Americans,” Griffin said.