Why Scott Walker opposes the Boy Scouts decision to allow gay scout leaders

The Wisconsin governor spoke out against the Boy Scouts of America's decision to lift their ban on gay scout leaders, drawing criticism from gay rights activists.

John Locher/AP
Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaks during a campaign event at a Harley-Davidson dealership Tuesday, in Las Vegas.

The Boy Scouts of America voted Monday to end their ban on gay scout leaders, and Scott Walker isn’t happy about it.

The Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate, who has been involved with the organization since childhood, spoke out against the decision on Tuesday in an interview with the Independent Journal Review. 

“I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values,” Governor Walker said, citing his own Eagle Scout status, the involvement of his two sons, and his wife’s position as den mother. 

The new policy lifts the nationwide ban but still allows individual troops to decide whether or not to allow gay scout leaders, as around 70 percent of Scout units are currently sponsored by churches and other religious institutions, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the United Methodist Church. It’s the latest move in the BSA’s gradual shift toward accepting all sexualities: In 2013, the organization revoked its ban on the membership of gay youth.

Walker’s comments have drawn criticism from gay rights activist groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, which called for Walker to renounce his statement and apologize on the grounds that his remarks were “offensive, outrageous, and absolutely unacceptable.”

"His comments imply that we represent a threat to the safety and well-being of young people,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Walker’s campaign elaborated on his comments Tuesday evening, explaining that the previous policy “protected Scouts from the rancorous political debate over policy issues and culture wars. Scouts should not be used as a political football on issues that can often be heated and divisive.”

Walker, who is said to be the most polarizing governor in the country, is revered by the far-right and despised by the far-left for his aggressively conservative agenda. In a recent Reuters/Ipsos survey, 6.4 percent of 400 self-identified Republicans surveyed chose Walker as the 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

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