Mitt Romney, President Obama affirm support for gay Boy Scout leaders

Published: Thursday, Aug. 9 2012 1:26 p.m. MDT

In this Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 photo, Dr. Robert Wise holds his Eagle Scout medal in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Wise, 59, is among several dozen former Eagle Scouts who are relinquishing their medals following the July 17, 2012 announcement that the Boy Scouts of America, after a confidential two-year review, was sticking with the divisive, long-standing policy of excluding openly gay youth and adults as members and leaders. "I can no longer maintain any connection to an organization which actively promotes such a bigoted and misguided policy," he wrote to Scout headquarters in Texas. "To that end, I am interested in removing all evidence that I was ever a Scout."

M. Spencer Green, Associated Press

In the wake of last week's Chick-fil-A flare up, which both candidates overtly avoided, both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama this week affirmed their long-standing support for integrating gays into the Boy Scouts.

In July, the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its longstanding prohibition on gay members or youth leaders.

"The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Boy Scouts CEO Bob Mazzuca told the AP at the time. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

Last week, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the AP that Romney still held to his 1994 position, when he said, “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation,” according to the New York Daily News.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration issued an email to the AP, the Christian Science Monitor reported. "The president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century," the White House statement said. "He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation."

The reaffirmed position by the national organization comes 12 years after the U.S. Surpreme Court ruled 5-4 that the organization was entitled to maintain the ban under the freedom of association and speech clauses in the First Amendment.

Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at eschulzke@desnews.com.

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