Today, former US defense secretary and current president of the Boy Scouts of America took a decidedly different approach to the Scouts’ ban on gay leaders.
He warned Scout executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” and that “any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”
Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, a group that has campaigned for change, praised Gates for the speech.
“Dr. Gates has built his reputation on straight talk and tough decisions, and I’m glad he’s fully endorsing a re-evaluation of the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults,” Mr. Wahls said in a statement. “It seems like the Boy Scouts will continue an internal dialogue about the subject and that a change within the next year or two is imminent.”
But here’s the real takeaway: Gates, a lifelong Republican, made a pragmatic statement that reaches far beyond the rank and file of the Scouts. Namely, the antigay faction of the Republican party.
By framing a reality which includes gay scout leaders as a reflection of how the world “is” and not how he “wishes it to be,” Gates shows himself to be a bit of a douche. But imagine how much better off the right wing squawk boxes would be if they heeded his simple advice and “dealt with it.” It’s a rare thing for a Republican to engage in a reality check, but by Gates’ own prediction, “any other alternative will be the end of [them] as a national movement.”
On the issues of national same-sex marriage and LGBT discrimination protections among others, it’s time to go with the flow, guys. You either learn to accept us while biting your lips, or lose relevancy altogether. It’s a simple choice, really.
Gates’ change of heart is far from perfect. He still wants religious institutions, which sponsor some 70 percent of troops, to retain the freedom to discriminate in their Scout leadership.
“We must, at all costs, preserve the religious freedom of our church partners to do this,” he said.
Sounds like Gates might do well to fully consider the advice he’s doling out instead of taking a half-step towards the future.