Rick Perry Says Ban on Gay Boy Scout Leaders Should Have Stood; Scott Walker Argues Troops Should Decide For Themselves

Boy Scouts of America troop members attend a Memorial Day weekend commemorative event in Los Angeles, California, in this May 25, 2013, file photo.
Boy Scouts of America troop members attend a Memorial Day weekend commemorative event in Los Angeles, California, in this May 25, 2013, file photo. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn/Files)

Two GOP presidential candidates, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, have weighed in on the Boy Scouts of America's vote last week to remove the long-standing ban on gay leaders in troops. While Perry said the ban should have stood, Walker argued the troops should decide for themselves.

"I believe that Scouting would be better off if they didn't have openly gay scoutmasters," Perry, who is an Eagle Scout along with Walker, told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.

Earlier in July, the BSA executive committee voted unanimously to remove the blanket ban, but said that individual scout troops will be allowed to set their own policy on whether to allow gay leaders or not. The change in policy will also allow church-sponsored troops to keep the ban, if they wish.

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"This change allows Scouting's members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families," the BSA said in a statement. "This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own."

Walker has said that he supports the decision to have individual troops decide their own policy on the matter, but said that he was also fine with the ban during his time at the BSA.

"I thought the policy was just fine. I'm saying when I was in Scouts, it was fine. You're asking what should the policy be going forward. It should be left up to the leaders of the Scouts," Walker said, according to CNN.

Previously the Wisconsin governor had told reporters that the ban helps protect youths, but later clarified that he was speaking about protecting children from the debate.

"I'm not talking about personal protection. I'm talking about, for me, the reason why I didn't have a problem with it is I just think it pulls scouting into a whole larger political and cultural debate, as opposed to just saying scouting is about camping and citizenship and merit badges and service awards, instead of pulling all these other issues out there. And I was just hoping that they could stay focused on that, that's all," he explained.

When also asked by CNN whether he believes being gay is a choice, Walker said that he did not know.

"I don't have an opinion on every single issue out there. To me, that's, I don't know," he said. "I don't know the answer to that question."

The Boy Scouts have changed a number of their policies in gay members in recent years, and in 2013 struck down a ban that prevented openly gay youths from serving as scouts.

The new resolution striking the gay leaders ban is expected to be ratified by the organization's 80-member National Executive Board at a meeting on July 27.

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