Geof Stone on "The Boy Scouts, Gays and Parental Responsibility"

The Boy Scouts, Gays and Parental Responsibility
Geoffrey R. Stone
The Huffington Post
October 5, 2012

According to NBC News, the Boy Scouts of America yesterday decreed that Ryan Andresen, who had recently completed the requirement to earn his Eagle Scout Award, "is no longer eligible for membership in Scouting" because he is gay. In the year 2012, this is nothing short of revolting.

The Boy Scout oath requires boy scouts "to help other people at all times," the Boy Scout law requires scouts to be "helpful, friendly, courteous, kind" and "brave," and the Boy Scout handbook requires scouts to "respect and defend the rights of all people." This is all admirable. But how in God's name can the Boy Scouts of America reconcile those purported values with its cruel and hateful discrimination against young boys merely because they happen to be gay? Whatever one might have thought about this issue fifty, twenty or even ten years ago, in 2012 in the United States it is simply immoral. Indeed, both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have condemned the Boy Scouts for their policy.

Do the Boy Scouts have a right to exclude gay scouts? In 2000 (the same year as Bush v. Gore), five very conservative justices of the Supreme Court (the same five who decided the 2000 election in favor of George W. Bush) held in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to exclude gay scoutmasters. The Court's rationale was simple. The right to associate gives the Boy Scouts a right to choose their own members. Presumably, if some similar organization, say the KKK Scouts, wants to exclude African-Americans, or the WASP Scouts wants to exclude Catholics, they would also have a constitutional right to do.

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Geoffrey R. Stone