Eagle Scout Badge, Type 9

Eagle Scout Badge, Type 9 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 5-4 that the Boy Scouts of America could legally exclude gay members and leaders. Last year, when the organization reaffirmed its court-approved legal right to restrict its membership to preclude gay members, there was a great deal of publicity — none of which was very good. There hundreds of mentions of Eagle Scouts who were surrendering their hard-earned and coveted award— the highest in the scouting organization. The fact that its own membership appeared to be revolting on it made the news, but there was no word that the organization was making any great strides to reconsider or even change its stance.

Today, the organization announced that it would reconsider its stance on gay participation at is upcoming meeting to possibly permit a position where local councils, troops and packs could make their own decisions about the admission of gay leaders and members. Why the sudden change? I would love to believe that the fact that so many of the men that worked so hard through their teenage years to earn the coveted award of Eagle Scout and returned their awards with letters that clearly stated their belief that the Boy Scouts’ position was unacceptable to them were the catalyst for that change of position. Sadly, however, in every news account reporting the story is mention of the fact that corporations are pulling their financial support of the organization because of its non-gay stance. United Parcel Service, Intel and Merck were repeatedly mentioned as pulling their financial support. I am sure that there are others who are not mentioned but have taken the same position. Once again, it has become apparent that it is not the actions of the people, but rather the actions of the corporations that control. This is truly sad. If the corporations did not pull their donations and there was no financial detriment for their continuation of the policy, would the opinion of the public and the actions of former scouts have had any effect on their decision? I think not.

My three sons are all involved in scouts. They have learned a lot while participating and made some wonderful friends. When we lived in New Jersey I was involved in the leadership and our pack and later, our troop, was chartered by a local church. At one point, the minister of that church admitted that he was openly homosexual. Did that make any difference in the generosity of the organization who let us use their facility, their resources and whose congregation warmly supported our boys’ activities? No. If we had mentioned this information would the charter potentially have been pulled and our troop literally thrown out on the street? I don’t know. I would like to think not, but then again…. we had no financial pull so I don’t know if scouts would have changed things just for us — even though it was all about the boys.

No matter which side of the fence you land in the discussion of the admission or banning of gays from the organization, you have to admit that it is pretty sad that financial pursestrings can change and sway that position just because those pursestrings think it should be changed. Folks, it should be about the kids, about the people — the thousands and thousands of people who selflessly give of themselves to propel the organization forward and support the boys involved– not the corporate sponsorship. Yet another sad example that the country is a country of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation.