When the Boy Scouts of America announced earlier this year that it would once again review its ban on homosexuals, the move came as a surprise to many. The issue seemed settled just last summer when, after an exhaustive two year review, the organization once again reaffirmed its traditional policy against homosexual members and adult leaders. At the time the National Executive Committee of the Boy Scouts of America said it would take no further action to reconsider the policy. [See here.]
Undaunted, homosexual activists refused to accept that decision and immediately launched a campaign designed to force the issue once again. Leading the charge were two members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) – Randall L. Stephenson (CEO of AT&T) and Jim Turley (CEO of Ernst & Young). Within six months they had bullied the rest of the NEC into revisiting the issue and conducting another review of the policy. Dubbed by the NEC as the “most comprehensive listening exercise in its history,” the review lasted less than two months (the previous review had last two years). To insure that the outcome of the review favored changing the policy, the NEC expanded its listening activities to include those outside of the Scouting community and actively sought out the input of those who opposed the ban on homosexuals. [See here.] Less than nine months after reaffirming the policy against homosexual membership, the NEC, led by Stephenson and Turley, reversed course and submitted a resolution to lift the ban on homosexual youth membership. [Please see the articles here and here for more information on that proposal.]
According to Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and several other news outlets, Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Turley never accepted the 2012 decision by the National Executive Committee, the Boy Scouts of America, or the Scouting community. However, rather than resign their position over such a fundamental disagreement, they vowed to effect change from within the organization.
Mr. Stephenson has considerable leverage with the National Executive Committee. He currently serves as one of its vice presidents and is set to become its president in 2014. AT&T, the company Mr. Stephenson leads as CEO, is one of the largest donors to the Boy Scouts of America. The financial relationship between AT&T and the Boy Scouts of America began in 2010 – roughly the same time frame in which the NEC began to review its policy on homosexuals. When AT&T reduced its funding to the Boy Scouts of America earlier this year, the move led organizations like the American Family Association to accuse Stephenson and AT&T of trying to bully the Scouts into submission.
The loss of corporate funding is a real threat to national groups like the Boy Scouts of America. Following the decision last summer, two large corporate donors – the Intel Foundation and the Merck Company Foundation – both ended funding to the Boy Scouts of America. Intel and Merck both admit that their decision was directly related to the BSA’s ban on homosexuals. One can only hope that the National Executive Committee is not abandoning principle because it is more lucrative to blow with the wind of political correctness than to stand against it.
The Boy Scouts of America are scheduled to vote on the Proposed Membership Standards Resolution at their National Annual Meeting scheduled for May 22-24, 2013, at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. Voting is limited to the 1,400 voting members of the organization. Odds are that they will pass the new resolution and change the current policy.
The impending demise of such a great organization offers some valuable “lessons learned” for the whole conservative movement.
1. The left, social liberals, and homosexual activists will not accept any decision as final until that decision favors them. The Boy Scouts have been fighting this battle for decades and they have defeated the homosexual agenda at every turn. The BSA fought and won several court battles including a battle in the Supreme Court. They have even won the battle in the eyes of public opinion. Yet, through persistence, unrelenting attacks, and unceasing agitation, homosexual activists are now set to win the war.
2. Leadership and character count. Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Turley were most likely appointed to the National Executive Committee based on their standing in the corporate community and their potential for bringing in large donors. They were not chosen because they agreed with the policies of the Boy Scouts of America – a point that even the BSA acknowledged last summer when the two announced their opposition to the decision to keep the policy. [See here.] Instead of being men of character who accepted the overwhelming opinion of the Scouting community and its right to maintain the principles of its organization, Stephenson and Turley have utilized their time on the NEC to undermine those principles and to bully the other members of the NEC. The purpose of the NEC and its members is to advance the goals of the organization – not the goals of groups hostile to the organization.
3. The adage that “good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together” does not apply to the left. In response to the announced opposition of Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Turley to the decision last summer, the NEC issued a statement that read: “Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting.” Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Turley did not accept the right of the NEC to disagree with their position. Instead they used their position to undermine the NEC and the Boy Scouts of America. They reopened an issue the BSA thought was closed, spent resources to conduct their listening campaign, and are now seeking to divide the organization with their new resolution. In what ways has their action advanced the “life-changing benefits of youth through Scouting”? Instead of serving the BSA and its mission, they have served the homosexual agenda to the detriment of the BSA and its goals.
4. The left will attack an organization through its funding.
5. The left will deliberately force an organization to use its precious resources to defend itself against attacks. They will seek to divert the organization from its true purpose and place them on the defensive. For two decades the left has plagued the Boy Scouts of America with these type of attacks.
6. The left will pursue its goals through a policy of gradualism. The new Proposed Membership Standards Resolution does not completely reverse the ban on homosexual members. Instead it only allows openly homosexual youth to join the Boy Scouts of America. The ban on adult homosexuals remains. The compromise will lull some into a false since of security on the issue and gain more support than a complete reversal of policy. After all, who wants to deny the benefits of membership to a youth? However, as Ken Klukowski at Breitbart News points out, the resolution – if passed – will open the door to further litigation by homosexual activists and undermine the BSA argument that homosexuality is incompatible with its values (the very argument on which the Supreme Court issued its decision in favor of the BSA in 2000). After all, how can homosexuality in a youth be okay but not in an adult? The actual resolution is so poorly worded as to encourage legal challenge – a point that Mr. Stephenson, Mr. Turley, and the NEC may have had in mind all along.
7. The left will not accept the compromise offered by the new resolution. Several homosexual rights groups have already announced their intention to press the Boy Scouts of America for full acceptance of homosexuality and the homosexual lifestyle. Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Turley have remained strangely silent on whether or not they consider the proposed resolution the end of the issue or if they will also push for full acceptance. What agenda will Mr. Stephenson pursue as the NEC President in 2014? Will it be the agenda of the Boy Scouts of America or of the homosexual activists?
8. The left intends to win the issue before opposition can mount against it. The only hope to preserve the Boy Scouts of America is to take action now and let our voices be heard. Mr. Stephenson, Mr. Turley, and their supporters have moved quickly in an attempt to push the issue before opposition can develop. That is what the “most comprehensive listening exercise in its history” only lasted two months. It is why Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Turley are reluctant to discuss the matter openly. It is why the NEC will push a vote in May. Please contact your local Boy Scout organization and make your voice heard. You may contact the national Boy Scouts of America at their website.
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness….”