Mark Segal

The Latest 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy

Filed By Mark Segal | July 13, 2012 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay policies, Boy Scouts of America, BSA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay Mormons, gay scouts, LDS, Mormon

This headline from The Salt Lake Tribune caught my attention: "Can gay Mormons serve in Boy Scouts? Well, yes and no: Thumbnail image for bigstock-Bsa-Uniform--Us-Flag-1278760.jpgAdmission rules are murky, but both groups use 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."

The article also notes that those who feel an attraction to members of the same sex but who don't act on it, or talk about it for that matter, can be members of the Church of Latter-day Saints sponsored Boy Scouts of America units, even though the BSA guidelines are more strongly antigay.

Add to all that -- and this might be surprising -- the Mormon church is the BSA's largest national sponsor. So when the Salt Lake Tribune decided to investigate the difference in policy, they wrote the church and received the following reply.

"All Scouts and adult leaders serving in LDS Scouting units are expected to live the standards of the church. They must also be properly registered with the Boy Scouts of America."

The Tribune also contacted BSA for clarification.

Deron Smith, spokesperson for BSA headquarters in Texas, responded via email to the paper's questions about chaste people with same-sex attraction serving in the organization: "You raise a hypothetical question which we can't answer without the benefit of knowing the specific details."

He continued, "We can say that in order to charter the Scouting program, organizations accept Scouting policies. That said, there isn't an inherent conflict [between] the BSA and LDS policies."

The article goes on to quote several former Mormon bishops who have served as Scout leaders, and none has ever heard of a case of a chaste same-sex attraction, but they also said they never asked anyone to leave their troops for being gay.

Got to hand it to reporter Lee Davidson and the Salt Lake Tribune for coming up with a theory that shows the difference in progress between the BSA and LDS. But does it answer anything?

By the very nature of the Tribune and other media putting a spotlight on the Mormon church and its policies, those discriminating policies will change. When is another question. After all, it wasn't until the 1970s that LDS stopped discriminating against blacks.

Thanks to the enormous backlash over its support of Proposition 8 in California, it now seems LDS is soft-peddling its discrimination. Or is it that they want to be as quiet as possible during the first presidential race with a Mormon as the presumed nominee of one of the political parties? Either way, they are trying to "tolerate" and that is new. Much newer than BSA, who should be concerned that their largest sponsor is seeing a little light, Mormon-style.

Whichever it is, Mormons seem to have adopted the DADT policy. That puts them roughly 20 years behind.

(Boy Scouts uniform via Bigstock)

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