Former Eagle Scout James Dale called the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to delay a vote on ending the organization’s ban on gay members “upsetting” MSNBC Wednesday afternoon. Dale, who sued the BSA in 2000 in a case that went to the Supreme Court, was asked to leave the Boy Scouts in 1990 after he was quoted in a local newspaper stating he was gay.
“It’s upsetting that the Boy Scouts have delayed the inevitable of removing this toxic policy of discriminating against gay kids,” Dale said on NewsNation. “If they take this time to re-think that compromised policy and end the ban once and for all, that’s a great thing.”
The BSA announced in January they would consider ending the organization’s national ban on gay membership and allow local organizations to determine their troops’ policies. But despite discussion at the national board’s meeting earlier this week, the organization announced Wednesday it needed more time to review both sides of the debate. A vote is now expected from the national council in May.
“This sound a lot like the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy in the military in the ’90s, and it took them 15-16 years to overturn that policy,” Dale said. “There was a tremendous amount of damage that was done during that time, but ultimately the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy was dropped and it’s a non-issue. I think once the Boy Scouts stop being so fearful and so discriminatory, they’ll realize this policy is only hurting them.”
Dale said he hoped the BSA would take the voices of the parents and kids directly affected by the policy into consideration, rather than the voices of right-wing talking heads. “I think it’s the voice of the 21% of the Boy Scouts of America that have exited the organization over the past 13 years,” he said.
A new Quinnipiac poll finds the majority of Americans, 55% to 33%, believe the BSA should end their ban on gay members.
“I think the people they’re listening to are the moms and dads, volunteer Scoutmasters, kids that are actually in Scouting that think that discrimination is wrong,” Dale added. “They know the damage being done by this policy. I don’t think it’s about the talking head right wingers. I think it’s about real Americans.”