Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2016-10-19
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Former Defense Secretary Gates to lead Boy Scouts
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Chuck Colbert

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

National gay-rights leaders are responding positively to reports that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will lead the Boy Scouts of America ( BSA ).

The Scouts' national executive board selected Gates late last month; and if approved by a BSA oversight council, he will serve a two-year term.

National volunteer and professional leaders, including the BSA national nominating committee, recommended Gates' selection by the Scouts's national executive board. The move means that upon approval of voting members of the national council, Gates would begin his term as BSA national president in May 2014 and lead the National Executive Board, which guides the Dallas-based BSA in serving approximately 2.6 million youth members, according to a BSA news release.

Gates, 70, was a key player in ending the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" stricture, a highly discriminatory policy and federal law that banned openly gay, lesbian and bisexual military service.

Indeed, Gates has had an impressive career, having served eight U.S. presidents of both political parties. In addition to his position as defense secretary, he was director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Gates also served as president of Texas A&M University. He is currently chancellor of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

A Kansas native, he earned a bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, a master's degree from Indiana University and a doctorate from Georgetown University.

Earlier this year, the Scouts announced a policy whereby gay boys could be members, but gay adults could not be troop leaders.

"We are glad to hear that the Boy Scouts of America intends to elect former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as president of the BSA's executive board," Zach Wahls, a straight Eagle Scout and the son of a lesbian couple, said in email correspondence.

"Mr. Gates has led a distinguished career of service to our nation—including the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'—and we hope he will continue that legacy by leading the Boy Scouts into a future that protects all its youth and parents, regardless of their sexual orientation," said Wahls, who is executive director of Scouts for Equality.

A spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign also voiced praise for the new BSA president-elect.

"Secretary Gates was instrumental in the repeal of the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and it is our hope he'll be just as instrumental in transforming the Boy Scouts of America into a more inclusive institution," Paul Guequierre said in an email.

Similarly upbeat was reaction from GLAAD, formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "Former Defense Secretary Gates has previously confronted discrimination head on, ushering in a new era of equality in our nation's armed forces," GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz said in a statement.

"Millions of people and national corporations have called on the Boy Scouts to put an end to discrimination once and for all. We urge Dr. Gates to continue his work to ensure all people are treated equally, no matter who they are and no matter what uniform they wear," said Cruz.

For his part, Gates said, "There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America. As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before."

He added in a statement, "I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make scouting what it is today—an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today's youth."

In May, the Scouts approved a resolution removing any ban on members based on sexual orientation alone, with more than 60 percent of the BSA's National Council—1,400 delegates—voting to end a 100-year ban on openly gay scouts.

End-the-ban efforts

However, the policy change, which takes effect on January 1, does not include adult Scout leaders.

It was back in April 2012 when GLAAD urged the Boy Scouts to end its ban on gay Scouts and gay leaders after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Bridgeport, Ohio, was removed from her 7-year-old's Cub Scout pack for being gay. Tyrrell's petition garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures in support of ending the ban.

Similarly, in August 2012, the Lincoln Heritage Council and Boy Scouts of America forced Greg Bourke, who acknowledged being gay, to resign a scoutmaster position in Louisville, Kentucky after five years of service.

Bourke who has two kids with his partner of 31 years, was an associate scoutmaster but was forced to limit his involvement with his son's troop.

Reached by phone, Bourke, who still remains active in his son's troop albeit unofficially, voiced hope Gates' selection will continue the Boy Scouts march toward full equality.

"Oh my gosh, I am encouraged," Bourke said, going on to add that with Gates' history of "working toward full inclusion in the military, I think he has the experience and is the right person" to bring about change "in an organization like the Boy Scouts, which closely resembles the military."

More than 4,500 signatories on a petition have called specifically for Bourke's re-instatement.

In all, more than 1.9 million people have joined petition campaigns seeking a complete end to BSA discrimination based on sexual orientation. To date such advocacy efforts have succeeded in getting two Boy Scout board members—AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Ernst and Young CEO James Turley—to speak out against BSA's anti-gay bias.

Additionally, petitions, along with efforts by GLAAD and Scouts for Equality, have pressured donors like the Intel Foundation and the UPS Foundation to pull funding until the Boy Scouts ends the ban on Scout leaders.

Last fall, a Bay Area mother, Karen Andresen of Moraga, petitioned her local Boy Scout council to honor her son Ryan with an Eagle Award that was denied to him when Ryan came out as gay. An official Eagle Board of Review unanimously approved Ryan's application for Eagle, but a Boy Scout executive ultimately rejected his application.

Andresen's online petition has garnered more than 450,000 signatures. The petition asks leadership from Troop 212 and the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council "to reject the Boy Scouts of America's discriminatory anti-gay policy and to give Ryan Andresen the Eagle Award he's earned."

New youth group

News of Gates' selection to head the Boy Scouts comes shortly after former BSA members and officials launched a Christian-based alternative organization called Trail Life USA.

More than 1,200 people gathered in Nashville, Tennessee for two days in early September to jump-start the new group. Co-founder John Stemberger told NBC News in July that Trail Life would allow gay boys to join, but they would not be permitted to "flaunt" their sexual orientation.

"We're going to focus on sexual purity, not sexual orientation," he said.

Stemberger of Orlando, Fla., is also a founder of, an online coalition opposed to the BSA's vote in late May to change its membership policy to permit gay Scouts.

United Way chapters in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New York have cut funds to the BSA—all in reaction to the ban on gay Scout leaders, according to the Associated Press.

The AP also reported that nearly 90 percent of the 1,200 local United Way chapters nationwide provide BSA funding, totaling $81.9 million.

Just as religious-right spokespersons were displeased with Gates' role in overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," so they are unhappy with his selection and potential leadership role in dismantling anti-gay bias in scouting. For example, a columnist for the fundamentalist Christian website, Warren Cole Smith, termed Gates' selection a "fruit-basket-turnover," and groused about BSA spokesman Deron Smith's refusal to discuss the matter.

Meanwhile, as the struggle for scouting equality continues, Freedom to Marry's executive director, Evan Wolfson, offered an assessment of the battle's overall significance for the larger LGBT movement.

"It's always been important because the Boy Scouts is an important opportunity for young people," he said.

The ban, Wolfson added, was a "terrible message of discriminatory stigma that was not good for our nation's youth."

The Boy Scouts is "an iconic institution that signifies something," he went on to explain over the telephone. "So our beginning to undo this discrimination signifies something about the larger movement both within society and with scouting, as younger parents and Scouts themselves that didn't want this policy to remain.

"There is also something to be said about how our success in undoing military discrimination is now being used to undo scouting discrimination, which at an earlier stage was modeled on military discrimination," added Wolfson. "There is something satisfactory about the way in which our victory is building on itself."

Like other gay rights leaders, Wolfson praised Gates' selection as president-elect.

"His credentials as a conservative and somebody with a military background, combined with the actual hands-on experience of undoing discrimination, hopefully signals [the BSA's] commitment to finish the job it started, getting the Boy Scouts back on track by removing entirely the discrimination, not just part or it."

©Copyright. Chuck Colbert. All rights reserved.

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Air Force woman's drone piloting trauma told in play Grounded 2016-10-18 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Grounded, by George Brant, is the story of a female Air Force pilot who is grounded after becoming pregnant ...

Gay News

MIDWEST LGBTQ HEALTH SYMPOSIUM Trans military officer recounts life 2016-10-12 - Day two of the Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium, held at Advocate Illinois Medical Center in Lake View Oct. 7, began in dramatic fashion ...

Gay News

Trump's position on trans military service part of anti-LGBTQ platform 2016-10-03 - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ( LGBTQ ) civil ...

Gay News

Palm Center sees steady progress in integrating transgender service members 2016-10-03 - SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, released the following statement in response to the Defense Department's publication of ...

Gay News

Quigley pushes for transgender equality at the VA 2016-09-13 - WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley ( IL-05 ), Vice-Chair of the Equality Caucus and founding member of the Transgender Equality Task ...

Gay News

SPARTA names new president after trans military policy victory 2016-08-30 - Washington, DC — SPARTA, one of the leading advocates for transgender military service, today announced Blake Dremann as the new Board Chair and ...

Gay News

U.S. Navy Makes History by Naming Ship After LGBTQ Civil-Rights Leader Harvey Milk 2016-08-17 - On Aug. 16, at a ceremony in San Francisco, the U.S. Navy made history by naming a new Military Sealift Command ship after ...

Gay News

Highest ranking openly LGBT service member to be honored by AMPA 2016-08-04 - WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ), the nation's largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( ...

Gay News

Navy to name ship after Harvey Milk 2016-07-28 - A Congressional notification has indicated that the U.S. Navy will name a ship after the late openly gay San Francisco politician/gay-rights leader Harvey ...

Gay News

Manning attempts suicide; lawyers decry privacy breach 2016-07-11 - On July 5, reports surfaced that trans whistleblower Cheslea Manning was rushed to the hospital from the prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after ...


Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.
[email protected]  •  [email protected]  •  [email protected]

Website Powered by