Washington State Dems Pressure Boy Scouts Over Dismissing Gay Troop Leader

Washington state Democrats are putting pressure on the Boy Scouts over its decision to revoke the charter of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, which hosted Troop 98, after they refused to dismiss openly gay scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath.

The Boy Scouts said the scouts could transfer to another troop, telling the church, "As you are aware the policy of the Boy Scouts of America does not allow open or avowed homosexuals to serve as volunteer adult leaders," according to CNN.

The church got its charter in November, and the Boy Scouts ordered the dismissal of McGrath three weeks ago after he gave an interview to NBC news praising the troop for its diversity.

“I am very disappointed by the decision to revoke the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church’s charter and the BSA’s current policy to dismiss openly gay scoutmasters," said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.). "I commend their recent decision to allow LGBT scouts to participate openly, but remain very concerned that dismissing scout leaders for serving openly goes against BSA values of mutual respect and inclusion of others.”

Smith, along with Dem Washington Reps. Jim McDermott, Suzan DelBene, and Derek Kilmer, sent letters to the  chief of the Seattle Boy Scouts Council Rob McKenna and Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates last week saying they were "gravely disheartened by this decision and the BSA's current policy as we feel it contradicts the BSA's core aims and values."

"The Boy Scouts of America has long taught the young men of America the core values of duty to country, personal honor, respect for the beliefs of others, volunteerism, and interdependence with the environment; principles which are conducive to good character, citizenship, and health," states the lawmakers' letter to Gates. "The Scouts are also a model for inclusiveness, with 6 million boys and young men from every ethnic, religious, and economic background, including those with disabilities and special needs, participating in scouting programs across the United States."

"While we commend the BSA for their recent decision to allow LGBT scouts to participate openly in the organization, we are concerned that dismissing scout leaders from their volunteer posts for serving openly goes against BSA values of mutual respect and inclusion. Scoutmasters dedicate their time and efforts to help young men to grow into adults and model citizens. We stress our support for Mr. McGrath and others who have dedicated their time and energy to shaping the next generation of Americans through this important organization."