The Madeleine Brand Show for July 18, 2012

Boy Scouts uphold ban on gay members

Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Campaigns In Michigan Ahead Of State's Primary

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A group of Boy Scouts look on at the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City, Michigan.

Every Boy Scout pledges an oath when joining: "To do their best ... do their duty ... and obey the Scout law." Well, that law means excluding gay men and boys from their ranks.

The organization reaffirmed its longstanding ban on gay membership yesterday, despite growing public acceptance for gay rights and widespread anti-discrimination laws. Twelve years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the organization's right to have this exclusionary policy, but since then there have been huge advances in gay rights and public opinion.

David France, who covered the Boy Scout organization for Newsweek, wasn't surprised that leadership made the decision to exclude gays from their ranks, but was surprised Boy Scout leadership made this decision in a secret closed-off session, without consulting their regional chapters or their board, both of which have voiced opposition to this policy.

And according to France, the Boy Scouts have become more culturally conservative over recent decades as they've grown more intertwined with the Mormon Church. "It's really a post-culture war phenomenon, even in the conservative America of the 50's they didn't hold to a single religious message. Now, they hold to a single religious message that is more conservative," France said. Of the 2.7 million members, 400,000 are Mormon, many others are affiliated with the Catholic church.


David France, freelance journalist who covered the Boy Scout organization for Newsweek

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