Some critics say the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the Boy Scouts, allowing them to bar gays from becoming troop leaders, could hurt the group more than it helps, the Associated Press reported June 30.
“They’re getting left behind where America is going,” Matt Coles, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told AP. “People are going to turn to their local governments and say, ‘This is a pack of bigots. Don’t give them special treatment.”
Coles predicted that local churches and communities would one by one cut their ties to the Scouts. He compared the group to the Daughters of the American Revolution, which lost its high status and public support decades ago as it became identified with racial prejudice and conservative politics.
During the decade or more of litigation leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision, the Scouts never hesitated to insist on their right to set their own standards for character building.
Several companies have cut off their financial support for the group, including Levi Strauss & Co. Seven of the 1,400 United Way agencies nationwide have quit giving, and several local governments have severed ties. The Scouts have been removed from a list of charities that Connecticut state employees can support through payroll deductions.
New contributors have offset the losses, however, said Scouts spokesman Gregg Shields. Shields added that membership had risen 7 percent in the last three years, the biggest increase since the baby boom.
Churches sponsor about 60 percent of Scout troops. Different denominations have responded differently to the dispute. The Mormon and Roman Catholic churches supported the Scouts, while the United Methodist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Association have condemned the Scouts for discrimination.
Other major national youth organizations, including the Girl Scouts, have opened their ranks to homosexuals.
For full text, see America Online.