An Eagle Scout delivered more than 275,000 signed petitions, which included some notable celebrity names, on Wednesday, demanding that the Boy Scouts of America start accepting open homosexuals in their organization.
Zach Wahls, a 20-year-old engineering student at the University of Iowa, who has two lesbian mothers, attended the Boy Scouts national board meeting at Gaylord Palms, an Orlando-area resort and convention center. He hand-delivered cardboard boxes containing 275,000 petitions, including signatures from stars such as Ellen DeGeneres, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Hutcherson, Ricky Martin and Julianne Moore, KMAS reported.
The petition was originally started on Change.org, seeking to reinstate Jane Tyrrell, the 32-year-old lesbian mother from the small town of Bridgeport, Ohio, who was removed from her position as Scout den leader and treasurer in April because of the Boy Scouts' policy against allowing gay members to serve in leadership positions.
"They (the petitioners) are ready for progress. We are ready for this progress," Wahls said on Wednesday, revealing that thousands of scouts had also signed the petition. "I refuse to stand by idly as it (Boy Scouts) forfeits its cultural relevancy at the very moment this country needs it most."
Wahls famously testified before Iowa lawmakers in February 2011 against a ban on gay marriage and civil unions in the state. He said his family "isn't so different from yours" and that he is not any different from children of heterosexual parents. His testimony went viral on YouTube and currently has more than 2.5 million views. The Eagle Scout also wrote the book My Two Moms.
In his latest effort, Wahls met with members of the Boy Scouts board to seek an end to what he considers anti-gay policies. The organization came out with a statement saying that the petitions are unlikely to persuade them to change their policies.
"Today, scouting officials accepted signatures from an online petition and shared the purpose of its membership policy," the statement began, according to Reuters.
"Scouting maintains that its youth development program is not the appropriate environment to introduce or discuss, in any way, same-sex attraction," it added.
"While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA," Deron Smith, the Scouts public relations director, further explained.
"Our supporters do not see Scouting as the right environment to reconcile divergent viewpoints on societal issues and realize a good partnership does not require full agreement on every issue," Smith added.
Back in 2000, the Boy Scouts of America won a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave them permission to ban members, including gays, whose conduct violates their values.
"The Boy Scouts of America has the right to establish policies consistent with its convictions. Indeed, the group's policy of excluding homosexuals from leadership would seem to be necessary and prudent. A consideration of recent national scandals should make that point sufficiently clear," wrote Albert Mohler, Jr, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, commentating on the Tyrrell case.