Two Senators—who are also Eagle Scouts—joined the call urging the Boy Scouts of America to allow anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, to have the opportunity to join the national organization.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.) sent a letter to Wayne Brock, chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America, on Feb. 1 expressing their hope that the Boy Scouts of America would revise its membership policy.
“We urge you to pursue a path which recognizes that all Americans should be welcomed into the Scouting family, regardless of sexual orientation," they wrote.
In the letter, the senators explained their gratitude for the opportunities bestowed by the Boy Scouts while they were in their youth.
“Participating in the Boy Scouts provided us with the opportunity to try dozens of skills-based activities we might otherwise never have experienced…" The continued, "The extraordinary chance to develop leadership skills was a key factor in enabling us to be contributing members of our community."
The letter comes at a crucial time in the debate surrounding the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay members. The public is increasing pressure on the organization, which boasts of 2.7 million members, to change its policies and make the organization fully inclusive. The proposed change to the membership policy has stirred fierce debate. Politicians and leaders on both sides of the issue have joined the conversation.
President Obama recently added his support for a revision to the Boy Scouts’ policy. In an interview with CBS News on Sunday he said, “My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life.”
Outside of the political world, there is widespread public support for a change in the Boy Scouts' membership policy. According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, 48 percent of Americans support the Boy Scouts allowing gay members. Thirty-two percent do not.
Young people however are far more progressive when it comes to LGBT issues. Even among conservative political and religious Millennials. From the Public Religion Institute:
- Nearly half (49%) of Republican Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, compared to only 19% of Republican seniors and less than one-third (31%) of all Republicans.
- Forty-four percent of white evangelical Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, compared to only 12% of evangelical seniors and 19% of evangelicals overall.
A decision from the Boy Scouts’ National Executive Board and Committee is expected tomorrow.