This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

I am an Eagle Scout. I consider the time I spent as a Boy Scout among the most influential and positive experiences of my life. The skills that have benefited me over the course of my life are immeasurable -self reliance, a sense of right and wrong, patience, commitment to community, etc. I could go on and on.

Which is why the decision of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to continue their policy of discrimination against openly gay members is so rattling. What do the Boy Scouts know about "morality" that the military and a majority of Americans are missing?

They know nothing.

Basically, the organization caved under the bigoted opinions of their leader, BSA national president Wayne Perry, and 11 members of a special committee so diverse and open-minded their identities are being kept a secret. So much for trustworthy. 

(As a side note, it's worth pointing out that Perry gave $50,000 to the Restore Our future super PAC backing Mitt Romney earlier this year, and contributed another $30,800 to the Republican National Committee in April. Not all Republicans hate gay people, but if someone involved in politics happens to rail against homosexuality, chances are they're Republican. Just saying.)

New Jersey knows better than most states the effect that bigotry and hatred can have. Since 1945, the state has had a law against discrimination. Amended in 1991, the law specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of nine different traits, including an individual's sexual orientation.

Yes, I understand the BSA, according to the Supreme Court, has the Constitutional right to such a bigoted policy. But that's not the same as saying they have the moral right.

They don't, because there is none.

In his dissenting opinion, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens makes the point that the BSA's ban on gay members doesn't originate from its founding principles, which are to instill values in young people and "prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetime in achieving their full potential."

Ironically, the effect of continuing this policy will be to harm the very people the BSA claim they're trying to protect — the kids. Straight kids that chose to remain scouts will learn that it's okay to judge people based on things like sexual orientation, and gay kids that might have benefited from becoming a scout will now be forced to remain in the shadows. 

Or even worse — these kids will move on to other organizations that are more tolerant and expose the fact the BSA has outlived its usefulness.

As you read this column, my Eagle Scout badge, the symbol of one of my proudest achievements in life, is in the mail, making its way back to Irving, Texas to Bob Mazzucca, Wayne Perry and the National Council of the BSA.

As proud as I am of my achievements, I no longer want to be an Eagle Scout if a young man who happens to be gay can't also be one.

 

 


Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.