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Bench Memos

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Re: Boy Scouts Would Abandon Own Supreme Court Victory



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Within the space of three months, the top leadership of the Boy Scouts of America floated two dramatically different revisions of the BSA’s policy against youth members and adult leaders who are “open or avowed homosexuals.” In late January, the BSA announced that it was considering a policy change under which “there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation” and the matter would instead be left to each of the various organizations that sponsor troops “to determine how to address this issue.” In late April, the BSA proposed its resolution that would allow openly gay youth members while supposedly retaining the prohibition on adult leaders who are “open or avowed homosexuals.”

Different as these two proposals are, they share one fundamental feature: While purporting to allow (in the case of the first) or require (in the case of the second) troops to bar openly gay adult leaders, they threaten to fatally undercut the legal basis for maintaining that bar. (See my fuller discussion of this point on the first proposal here and on the second proposal here.) Indeed, they do so without offering any sign that they’ve even given the matter an iota of attention.

What this demonstrates is that the BSA’s top leaders aren’t serious about finding some middle ground. Instead, they’re trying to snooker and bamboozle local scout leaders and parents to embrace a proposal that isn’t sustainable and that will lead in short order to a wholesale abandonment of the existing policy against openly gay adult leaders. Whether or not one supports that abandonment, the dissembling way that the BSA’s top leaders are pursuing it is a shameful violation of their duty to be trustworthy.



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