(Photo: Reuters/Christian Hartmann)
Bill Gates has given his view on the gay ban debate at the Boy Scouts of America, saying that he believes it is time for the group to change its rules.
The billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder gave his opinion Wednesday night when he was speaking at the inaugural installment of Politico's new interview series, Playbook Cocktails, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Gates, himself an ex-Boy Scout, was asked at the event whether he believed the organization should turnover its long-held rules on prohibiting homosexual leaders.
Gates quickly let his opinion be known, answering that is "absolutely" should reverse its historic position on the matter. When Politico's D.C. bureau chief, Mike Allen, asked why, Gates simply replied, "Because it's 2013."
The Microsoft chief's comments come as the Boy Scouts of America conducts a survey hoping to help the organization's national leaders decide whether or not to lift a ban on gay members.
The survey on membership standards, which includes scenario-based questions, was recently sent to about 1.1 million adults who are either volunteers or parents of Scouts, according to an emailed statement provided by BSA Director of Public Relations Deron Smith.
Another 325,000 surveys will also soon be sent to Scouting alumni groups to be filled out.
"David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong," one of the scenarios reads. "His troop is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith also teaches that homosexuality is wrong. Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to be a member in the troop and is denied membership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?"
"Johnny, a first grade boy, has joined Tiger Cubs with his friends," another scenario says. "Johnny's friends and their parents unanimously nominate Johnny's mom, who is known by them to be lesbian, to be the den leader. Johnny's pack is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith does not teach that homosexuality is wrong. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for his mother to serve as a den leader for his Cub Scout den?"
The survey was developed by North Star Opinion Research with the help of volunteers and professionals who have a variety of different opinions on the issue.
"The survey results, along with the committee's work, will be put into a larger report and along with other feedback will help inform the officers' work on a resolution regarding membership standards," said Smith in his email.
In January, the organization announced it was considering lifting the gay ban in favor of giving local groups the power to make their own membership policies. BSA leaders later postponed any decision until May, when voting members of National Council will resolve the issue at the group's National Annual Meeting.
According to the BSA website, more than 70 percent of the organization's 100,000 scouting units are chartered to faith-based groups, though not all of them see eye to eye on the issue.
Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in February urging the BSA to keep the ban on gay members and leaders intact.
In the resolution, the SBC's Executive Committee expressed "its deep dismay and disappointment at the conduct of any Boy Scout leader who openly or surreptitiously built support for their proposal to reverse the Scouts historic position on this issue, thereby alienating conservative religious bodies that sponsor the vast majority of Boy Scout units."
Here is a video of Bill Gates speaking at the event: