A Tumblr site chronicling Eagle Scouts who are returning their badges because of the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on homosexuals has published more than 80 letters.
It’s a powerful message—more symbolic than anything else as the Scouts award 50,000 of the medals every year—but one that’s definitely getting media attention.
The men breaking ties with the organization are a diverse group. Dr. Joshua White of Iowa, writes:
“I am not gay. I have family and friends, however, that are openly gay and have found peace and happiness as such. These are individuals worthy of respect and love, and I cannot honor them by endorsing your organization. I cannot allow my son to participate in your organization and learn to view others as less than himself. I will not tolerate discrimination, and this unfortunately has come to include your organization, which I have long held dear.”
Raymond Arnold’s words were like poetry:
“Giving back my Eagle badge is a personal little ritual. Months of frustration, pressed into a small, cheap icon that only has meaning because I decide it does. I’m holding it in my hand for the first time in a while, and it feels a lot heavier than it should. Like there’s a whole person inside it – somebody I used to be.”
And attorney Jackson Cooper of Louisville, KY, gives a more personal reason:
“…my now deceased mother, a lesbian, would not have been allowed to serve as a den mother if her orientation had been public knowledge. The thought that I have invested such a large part of my life with an organization that would have turned my own mother away breaks my heart.”
The Scouts don’t seem as moved as we are by these words: “We’re naturally disappointed when someone decides to return a medal because of this single policy,” said Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith. “We respect their right to express their opinion.”
Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting that presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is sticking to the position on the ban that he had in 1994, when he said, “all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Of course, right before he made that statement, Mitt said “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue.” Sounds like he means personally he feels one way, but policy-wise it’s another thing.
That’s just what we want in a president: Someone who can identify injustice when it rears its ugly head, but doesn’t want to do anything about it.
It’s also interesting to note that Romney’s denomination, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, charters more Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops than any other religious group—37,000 units with some 420,000 members. (The Scouts have about 2.7 million members in all.)
So the most famous Mormon in the world right now won’t even urge his religious leaders to stand against what he identifies as bigotry. What a mensch.