LOS ANGELES – Days before the Boy Scouts of America prepared to consider lifting its blanket prohibition on gays, President Barack Obama reiterated that he thinks the ban should end.
In an interview with CBS News airing during the Super Bowl show Sunday, Obama said, “My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life.” He called the Boy Scouts “a great institution” that offers skills that benefit children throughout their lives.
The Scouts announced last week that its national board would discuss allowing local groups to decide whether to admit gays. The board’s meeting begins in Irving, Texas, today.
The announcement follows a decades-old determination to bar homosexual boys and adult leaders – a ban the Scouts reaffirmed in July.
Weeks after the organization did so, the White House told the Washington Blade that Obama opposed the ban.
The president considers the Scouts “a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye said in the statement, which continued: “He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation.”
Obama is honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America.
“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver scouting to determine how to address this issue,” Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement. “The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents.”
The proposed change is likely to be controversial. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout, said he will defend the current policy. In addition, a majority of local chartering groups are faith-based, including the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches. Both are likely to continue to bar gay Scouts and leaders, whatever the Boy Scouts’ national board decides.