Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger says he’s compelled to drop the department’s Boy Scouts of America charter after the organization opened its ranks to gay Scouts.
Wolfinger said the organization is promoting a lifestyle that’s against Idaho law. The sheriff said he sent a copy of the state law banning sodomy to the Inland Northwest Council of Boy Scouts, according to a Coeur d’Alene Press report.
“It would be inappropriate for the sheriff’s office to sponsor an organization that is promoting a lifestyle that is in violation of state law,” Wolfinger said.
Tim McCandless, CEO of the scouts’ Inland Northwest Council, said he wanted to speak with Wolfinger before commenting.
“I would encourage you to read the resolution that was passed, however,” McCandless said. “Sodomy is not allowed in Scouting and is not an issue in this discussion.”
The organization on Thursday approved a plan to accept gay Scouts but not gay Scout leaders. Of the roughly 1,400 voting members of the BSA’s National Council who cast ballots, 61 percent supported the proposal drafted by the governing Executive Committee. The policy change takes effect Jan. 1.
Wolfinger said he’s concerned BSA will eventually lift the ban on gay adult leaders.
“This just opens the door to having openly gay Scout leaders,” he said.
The Inland Northwest Council released a statement Thursday concerning adult leaders: “A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.”
Liberal Scout leaders – while supporting the proposal to accept gay youth – have made clear they want the ban on gay adults lifted as well.
In contrast, conservatives with the Scouts – including some churches that sponsor Scout units – wanted to continue excluding gay youths, in some cases threatening to defect if the ban were lifted.
“While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting,” McCandless said in a statement Thursday. “I believe good people can disagree and still work together to accomplish great things for youth.”