President Obama gave his support to recent moves by the Boys Scouts of America to end its policy of not allowing gay Scout leaders or Scouts in an interview today. He also said that he will not hesitate to send women into combat.
Boy Scouts of America won a United States Supreme Court case (Boy Scouts of America vs Dal) in 2000. The Court held that a Constitutional Right to Freedom of Association allowed exclude a person from membership when “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints.”
BSA has come under criticism since then for taking the position that Scout leaders and Scouts could not be gay. The current discussion is whether or not the Boy Scouts should change this position to allow local affiliates to decide this matter for themselves.
The Reuters article describing President Obama’s comments on the matter says in part:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Sunday encouraged the Boy Scouts of Americato end its ban on gay members and leaders, days before the group is expected to vote on the controversial and long-standing rule.
In an interview with CBS, anchor Scott Pelley asked the president if he believed scouting should be open to gays.
“Yes,” Obama said simply.
… The BSA national executive board is expected to vote Wednesday, the last day of a three-day meeting, on whether to lift the ban it had reaffirmed just last year.
The organization said last month it was considering ending its national ban on gay youth and adult members and leaving policies on sexual orientation to its local organizations.
Since coming into office, Obama has presided over several moves to reduce discrimination against gays, including ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prevented gay men and women from serving openly in the military.
He also stopped his administration from defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade gay married couples from obtaining the same benefits that heterosexual couples receive.
Obama also voiced his support for gay rights during his high profile second Inaugural address last month.
Separately on Sunday, Obama said he would have no hesitation sending women into combat after the Pentagon lifted its long-time ban last month. (Read more here.)