Sides spar over gay Boy Scouts and leaders

WASHINGTON – The debate continues over a decision by the Boy Scouts of America to exclude gay people from leadership positions. Now there is a petition to try and change that policy.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two lesbian mothers, is the founder of Scouts for Equality and says he already has 130,000 signatures for the petition.

“Six hundred Eagle Scouts have spoken out against this policy to try and actually put an end to the policy of exclusion by the Boy Scouts of America” he says.

This comes just weeks after Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, who also runs a conservative group called Public Advocate of the United States, produced a controversial video in support of the Boy Scouts decision.

“Leave the Boy Scouts alone,” says Delguadio. “I hope the Boy Scouts continue to have those quaint views.”

Earlier this month, the organization emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, angering critics who hoped that relentless protest campaigns might lead to change.

The Scouts cited support from parents as a key reason for keeping the policy and expressed hope that the prolonged debate over it might now subside. Bitter reactions from gay-rights activists suggested that result was unlikely.

A few days after the decision came down, Eagle Scout Martin Cizmar returned his badge in protest. The Ohioan wrote a letter to the organization saying that he is not gay, but cannot morally support “a policy of bigotry.”

“A national policy on sexuality forces good, principled people from scouting,” he writes. “I can only hope that someone inside the BSA has the courage to fix this policy before the organization withers into irrelevance.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP and the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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