The Boy Scouts of America must respond to growing pressure to lift its ban on gay members. When the honorary head of the organization, President Obama, chastises the policy in public, its a game changer.

President Obama, who serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America Wednesday publicly chastised the Scouts for their ban on gay and lesbian members and leaders. (History lesson: every president since William HowardTaft has served as honorary leader of the Scouts.)

The Boy Scouts of America must respond to the growing pressure to lift its ban on gay members. When you have the honorary head of your organization chastising you in public, it sends a strong signal.

Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are both on the record opposing the Scout’s anti-gay stance.

I am confused, however, by Romney’s explanation of the matter during his 1994 campaign against Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. Romney said:
“I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.” Um, which is true, the first sentence or the second? It isn’t as though they can they happen simultaneously, the Scouts sticking to their guns and people regardless of their sexual orientation being welcomed into the organization.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Scouts’ ban on gays and lesbians. Conservatives have been reluctant to challenge the Scouts. Liberal Democrats, including Obama, have been squishy on this issue as well.

The silence is ending thankfully. In addition to Obama and Romney, Washington’s gubernatorial candidates, Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee, publicly oppose the ban. Advocates for equal rights continue to press the case everywhere.
A petition on Change.org demanding the Boy Scouts reinstate a Cub Scout leader ousted for being gay has garnered more than 300,000 signatures.