A lot of people reacted very positively to Boy Scouts of American President Robert Gates saying that the ban on gay scout leaders can’t be sustained and the rules should be changed, but the reason he said that is not quite so benign. This could easily be missed in his statement:
Speaking at the Boy Scouts’ annual national meeting in Atlanta, Mr. Gates said cascading events — including potential employment discrimination lawsuits and the impending Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, as well as mounting internal dissent over the exclusionary policy — had led him to conclude that the current rules “cannot be sustained.”
If the Boy Scouts do not change on their own, he said, the courts are likely to force them to, and “we must all understand that this will probably happen sooner rather than later.”…
In his speech, Mr. Gates, who is also a former director of the C.I.A., evoked his experience as defense secretary. In that role, he helped end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy — which was similar to the current Boy Scouts policy toward Scout leaders — and discrimination against gay men and lesbians.
He recalled that in 2010, a federal judge declared the military policy to be illegal. “Only a stay granted by the appeals court — granted, I believe, mainly because we were in the process of changing the law — prevented dramatic disruption in the armed forces,” he said Thursday.
“If we wait for the courts to act,” he continued, “we could end up with a broad ruling that could forbid any kind of membership standard,” such as the belief in a duty to God and the goal of specifically serving the needs of boys.
So his reason, if this is to be taken seriously, is that he feared that if they didn’t end anti-gay discrimination, they might lose the ability to continue engaging in anti-atheist discrimination. That’s both very unlikely (the courts have already ruled that the BSA can set its own policies as a private organization) and, if he actually believes it, a really, really bad reason for doing it.