Meeting Thursday in Grapevine, Texas, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America will decide whether it will retain or revise its historic membership policy on the issue of homosexuality. The 1,400 voting members of the B.S.A. National Council hold the future of one of America’s most iconic organizations in their hands. In reality, they are not only deciding a matter of membership policy. They are actually deciding the future of the entire organization.
The culture wars came to the Boy Scouts many years ago. For the last few decades, the Boy Scouts have had to fight battles with both secularists and homosexual activists. The secular challenge came first, with demands that the Scouts drop their historic requirement that boys affirm belief in God as a criterion for membership. Soon thereafter, the demand for the full inclusion of homosexual members and leaders followed. The Scouts have had to fight legal battles both locally and nationally, costing the venerable organization millions of dollars in legal fees. In 2000, the B.S.A. prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court when the nation’s highest court ruled that the Boy Scouts had a constitutional right to exclude openly gay boys and leaders from the organization, so long as that exclusion is based in one of the organization’s core convictions — an “expressive message.” The B.S.A. won the case because that is exactly what they claimed. They argued that excluding openly homosexual boys and leaders from Scouting was necessary and required by the Scout Oath.