Lawmakers in several states passed resolutions last week praising the Boy Scouts of America for its "inclusiveness," among other things, as the organization continues to consider lifting its ban on openly gay members.
In both Tennessee and Arizona, the state House and Senate have passed resolutions expressing gratitude to the BSA for helping the nation's boys and young men. A similar resolution has also been passed in the Ohio House of Representatives. Each of the resolutions praises the organization for "producing leaders for our nation who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."
State Rep. Vince Dean, who sponsored the resolution in Tennessee, told The Christian Post there are three major BSA councils in his state. He said the resolution was passed "in support of their history and the legacy of the Boy Scouts, and we wanted to commend them for their continued support of that legacy and the traditions of the Boy Scouts as they are now in the State of Tennessee."
Though the BSA's current policies do not allow for openly gay members, the Tennessee and Arizona resolutions call the organization "a model for inclusiveness." All three of the resolutions mention the group's diverse array of members, including those with special needs and disabilities, from different religious, ethnic and economic backgrounds.
"I would say that, in the State of Tennessee, they have a history of being inclusive and I support them in not changing their history the way it currently is," said Dean.
John Stemberger, an Eagle Scout and founder of OnMyHonor.net, praised Arizona and Tennessee lawmakers for supporting the BSA.
"We agree with these states and support the current policy of Scouting which allows anyone to participate irrespective of sexual orientation, only disallowing the open and aggressive promotion of homosexuality and political agendas. Sex and politics should stay out of the Boy Scouts," said Stemberger in a statement on his website.
But Linda Thomas, a blogger for Restore Reason, says the ban on openly gay members is harmful, teaching boys that "gays are lesser, unworthy people," among other things.
"The Arizona Legislature has once again proven they do not represent all the people of Arizona," Thomas wrote in a blog post. "This resolution was an unnecessary piece of legislation intended to send a message of support to a discriminatory organization. After all, where is the concurrent resolution in support of the Girl Scouts who by the way don't feel the need to exclude lesbian girls?"
In contrast to the resolutions passed in Arizona, Tennessee and Ohio, a bill proposed in California by State Sen. Ricardo Lara seeks to add "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" to the list of things nonprofit youth organizations cannot discriminate against. If signed into law, Senate Bill 323 would strip the BSA of its tax-exempt status in the state.
The BSA announced in January that it was considering lifting its nationwide gay member ban. In March the group entered the "listening" phase of its decision-making process so it could analyze the potential impact of such a decision and gather feedback from Scouting members, according to the BSA website.
Currently, the organization's officers are reviewing a summary report of the information gained during the listening phase so they can prepare a resolution for voting members of the National Council to consider. A vote is set to occur in May during the BSA's National Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas.