Friday, January 28, 2011

The 21st Century: Boy Scouts and the Military

Boy Scouts
In mid-2000 the Boy Scouts of America caused controversy when U.S. Supreme Court ruled in their favor against former Assistant Scout Master James Dale (pictured below). In 1990 a piece had been written on James Dale since he had given a speech as co-president of Rutger's University's Lesbian/Gay Alliance. In 2000 Dale applied for a leadership position with the Boy Scouts. However, upon finding record of his work with a Lesbian/Gay Alliance Dale was not only denied the promotion but removed from the organization. The scouts kicked him out on the basis that their oaths required members to be "morally straight" and that scout laws enforce being "clean" in both word and action.

Dale sued the Boy Scouts of America arguing that it was not a private club and therefore they were violating New Jersey's anti-discrimination act. Unfortunately in a 5-4 decision the court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts. In response, many LGBTQ-friendly corporations ceased donations and financial contributions to the organization. Many groups went as far as disallowing the organizations access to public facilities. The Boy Scouts thus responded by adopting a written policy that reaffirmed their exclusion of LGBTQ individuals and atheists. 

In Barack Obama's presidential campaign he advocated the repeal of the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military, a policy which barred homosexuals from serving in the military. In Obama's first State of the Union address as president he stated: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are." Soon after this statement both Robert Gates (Defense Secretary), and Michael Mullen (Joint Chiefs Chairman) gave Obama their support. After overcoming a Republican-led filibuster, the house passed the repeal and Obama signed it into law on December 22nd, 2010.

Additional/Relevant Reading:
Gay America: Struggle for Equality -- Linas Alsenas, pg. 143-144

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