- (Photo: Screenshot/Fox 13 News)
Defying orders from the country's largest Boy Scouts council, members and adult volunteers of the youth organization chose to wear their Boy Scouts uniforms while marching in Utah's gay pride parade last Sunday.
The Utah Pride Festival Parade took place 10 days after the Boy Scouts delegates voted by 61 percent to lift the organization's ban on openly gay members at its annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas.
The Great Salt Lake Council had forbidden Boy Scouts members from wearing their uniforms in the pride parade due to the organization's guidelines, which prohibit advocating a political or social agenda.
Rick Barnes, chief scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, which oversees nearly 75,000 youth, told NBC News that he notified certain troops that they could not wear their uniforms in the parade after being informed of their plans by local Scoutmaster Peter Brownstein, who organized some Boy Scouts to march in the parade.
"We as a Scouting movement do not advocate any social or political position, so I reminded Mr. Brownstein that we do not wear uniforms at an event like this," Barnes told NBC News.
"We do not, as Boy Scouts, show support for any social or political position. We're neutral. If he wants to attend the parade and others do that are Scouts or Scouters, they're welcome to do so as private citizens wearing whatever they want except their uniform," Barnes added.
"That's our official position. It always has been, there's nothing new here," he added. "We just don't want people to use the Boy Scouts to advocate their positions."
The Boy Scouts who chose to march in the parade reportedly included a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, an Eagle Scout, and an Assistant Scout Master.
Some have argued that the intention of having Boy Scouts march in Utah's pride parade was to simply foster the notion of an inclusive society within the youth organization and to let gay members of the community know that they are welcome in a group which previously denied their admittance for 103 years.
Barnes sent an email to The Salt Lake Tribune which noted that the new policy adopted by the Boy Scouts specifically notes that Scouting may not be used to promote sexual orientation.
Deron Smith, spokesman for the Boy Scouts national headquarters, released a statement saying it is up to the local council to determine the punishment for those Scouts who disobeyed orders by wearing their uniforms in the parade.
"These individuals stated a personal opinion and do not represent Scouting," Smith said in the statement, as reported by NBC News.
"Scouting teaches young people that often in life one finds rules they don't agree with, but a Scout is to be obedient. To simply disobey a rule because you disagree with it is not an example to set for youth. It is up to each council to determine how best to hold their leaders to the standards of Scouting. We will support the Greater Salt Lake Area Council as they determine the appropriate response."
The American Family Association, which promotes traditional family values, addressed this recent issue, saying that it proves the Boy Scouts organization will drastically change its values to abide by the pro-gay agenda.
"Just ten days after the BSA voted to accept open and avowed 'gay' scouts, the Scout Oath and Law are already falling apart. The first to fall was the pledge to be 'morally straight.' By defiantly marching in the parade, the BSA has now lost 'trustworthy' and 'obedient,'" the American Family Association said in a statement.
The AFA went on to assert that the blatant breaking of rules which occurred over the weekend is an example of further changes to come in the BSA.
"You can expect the BSA will cave again ... and soon. With more 'pride' parades occurring across the nation in June, we expect to see more scouts marching for additional changes," the conservative group warned.
The Great Salt Lake Council has reportedly not announced a punishment for those who chose to wear their uniforms at the parade.