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Midtown Residents Speak Out on Boy Scouts' Gay Ban

Some Midtown residents are saying that they hope the Boy Scouts lift their ban on gays but it shouldn't be forced to do so. One Decatur resident said if the organization does lift the ban, it's "another round won by the devil."

Midtown residents are speaking out about the Boy Scouts' consideration of lifting its ban on gay members and leaders.

For the last 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America have banned gays from joining their ranks. On Feb. 6, the organization announced that it would delay until May its decision to either continue enforcing the ban or to admit gays, which has sparked both outrage and praise from parents and those involved with Scouts.

Midtown residents voiced their thoughts on the issue on Midtown Patch Facebook and Midtown Patch Twitter:

@mattnatl - "I'm gay and would love them to lift it but they are a private organization and shouldn't be forced to."

Marc Acampora said, "I abhor discrimination. I also abhor the use of government force to control private organizations. The Boy Scouts does enjoy many privileges of public entities including tax breaks and use of public facilities. I believe they need to go one way or the other and not continue to blur the lines between public and private. Ideally, I'd like them to both eliminate any public handouts or tax advantages, while also, of their own accord, cease their discriminatory policies, which not only exclude gay scouts, but also atheists."

Patrick Teague said, "I am a gay Eagle Scout and was a counselor at local, national, and international camps.
While I support their right to be wrong, I disagree with their discriminatory policy.
Bigotry is taught. By showing young people that it is OK to treat certain people as 'less than,' you are promoting bigotry and discrimination."

Billy Cochran leads Gay Fathers of Atlanta, which meets in Virginia-Highland at the Ponce de Leon branch of the Atlanta-Fulton County Libraries and at All Saints Episcopal Church in Midtown. He said that while he respects the Boy Scouts' right to make a stance, he would not want his own progeny involved in such an organization.

"I'd rather my grandchildren be a part of an organization that sees the greater picture. I would want them...in an organization that is inclusive."

Cochran, 48, will marry his longterm partner in April. He was married for many years to a woman and didn't come out as a gay man publicly until he was 38.

He said lifting the ban on gays in the prominent organization for young boys and men would be "just another step taking kids out of having to hide who they are."

The Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts released the following statement:

"While the National Board continues its discussions, I promise that the Atlanta Area Council will continue to provide the best Scouting program to as many youth in Atlanta as possible. This is an important and complex national issue, but we cannot allow a policy debate to negatively impact the quality of the program we deliver to our Scouts. They are counting on us."

Non-religious-affiliated donors have vocalized to the BSA that they will pull funding of the organization if the ban continues.

However, many others who sponsor Boy Scouts want the ban to remain.

While the Boy Scouts' national executive board deliberated changes to allow gays for three days at the organization's headquarters, hundreds supporters rallied outside with signs that read "Don't invite sin into the camp" and "Homosexuality is a sin! BSA please resist Satan's test. Uphold the ban."

Reports, such as this one from the Associated Press, show that about 70 percent of all Boy Scouts are sponsored by religious denominations, which could completely gut the organization if they decide not to renew their sponsorships. This post from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution states that Mormons sponsor the most Boy Scouts in the nation, followed by Methodists and then Catholics– all three groups have traditionally supported the ban on gays in the organization because it lines up with their religious doctrine that homosexuality is a sin.

However, others in and around Atlanta, like southwest Atlanta Scoutmaster Donald Wheat said he believes homosexuality is a sin and will leave the Scouts after 46 years as a leader if the ban is lifted.

Wheat said, that, for him, the issue is a matter of morals and standing up for his beliefs. He said that the admittance of gays into Boy Scouts would mean support of homosexuality, which he said is counter to his Christian faith and to the Scout’s Oath, which requires Scouts remain “morally straight.”

“Either you’re going to take a stand one way or the other. As much as I would hate to give it up, I’m going to stand if I stand by myself,” Wheat said.

What do you think? Should the Boy Scouts of America lift its ban on gay members and leaders? Tell us in the comments below.

Robert Miller February 13, 2013 at 12:23 PM
"Another round won by the devil", seriously?! What year is it?
JM Hurricane February 13, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I don't know why the LGBT community is spending so much time on this issue 99.999 percent of the gay men I know could care less about scouting. The closest they've come to fire is Fire Island.
Bike Guy February 13, 2013 at 02:46 PM
First, a correction of facts: The BSA has not banned gays and lesbians for 103 years. A memo in 1978 proposed that the Scouts not accept homosexual men. This was only codified in 1991, well after the Mormons had made the Scouts their youth group and had become the largest donor. I suggest that you print a correction. The Boy Scouts was never meant to be a Christian organization. Lord Baden Powell founded the Scouts as explicitly non-sectarian. The divisions only began in the 1990s after Christian conservatives, and above all the Mormons, hijacked the BSA. Mormons, who represent less than 2% of the American population, now control more than a third of American Boy Scout troops. Scouts in other nations do NOT discriminate. We can each believe the other is immoral. I believe that people who drive giant gas-guzzling SUV’s are immoral. But I don’t have any desire to keep them out of the Scouts. We are a two-dad family, former Scouts. We have no objection to our kids hanging with Mormon parents or their kids. We try to respect diverse beliefs even if we do not share them. I quote Baden Powell: "Buddha has said: 'There is only one way of driving out Hate in the world and that is by bringing in 
Love.' Scouting's aim is to produce healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self interest, personal, political, sectarian and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self-sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity."
Bad spellers UNTIE! February 13, 2013 at 02:58 PM
This is ridiculous. If they want to ban gays, so be it. There is nothing stopping people from starting the Gay Scouts of America, or whatever you so choose. I think the decision to lift the ban would ultimately result in the collapse of the boy scouts; since, as noted, it is primarily funded by religious organizations that are opposed to homosexuality. Then everybody loses. How come nobody talks about the girl scouts?
Tim February 13, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Bad speller, Girl Scounts (and Camp Fire) do not ban members and leaders based on sexual orientation. That may be why they are not part of this issue. Perhaps since churches tend to not allow females to be the leader or full members with full rights and responsibilities, or since most Boy Scout troops are led by churchs who do not allow Girl Scouts or Camp Fire troops in their churches, may be other reasons.
Mr Brown February 13, 2013 at 08:20 PM
The Boys Scouts will be just fine (I hope since it teaches great stuff) - It's up to every individual troop to select a leader and in places like GA hell will freeze over before that happens.. So what if a kids dad plays for the other team, he should be able to experience life with other kids otherwise he'll just turn out gay too. There is a catch however, if there is ever a "Penn State" event anywhere in the US the ban will just come back and they'll say see that's why we did that whether the sicko was gay or not.. Let us see how this plays out :-)
steve tenace March 18, 2013 at 01:25 AM
As young boys go through scouting, maturing from childhood to adolesence to being a well developed young man, many will feel the uncertainty or doubt of their developing masculinity somewhere in this process; and this is exactly where scouting has helped thousands of young boys mature into fully developed heterosexual men. The homosexual "troop leader" will argue of course that this young boy "IS" a homosexual and that he should be the one to "counsel" him and guide him through this confusion, saving him years of frustration and anguish by helping him "accept his homosexuality" early in life. Then were faced with the battle between this misguided homosexual and the heterosexual leader that sees nothing wrong with the boy, and in many ways sees himself in him just as much as the homosexual believes he does. The homosexual agenda will continue to push for laws like what has been passed in california, claiming it is "unhealthy and dangerous" to attempt to counsel this young man in his heterosexuality, and that the heterosexual is being bigoted and a "homophobe", and must be prevented from seeking counseling for their sons. I can imagine the laws they would push for next! Im sorry, it is the homosexual who is demanding to not just be "included", but to have influence over our young impressionable children that are going to be on "the wrong side of history".

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