President Barack Obama
President Obama, who is the honorary president of the Boys Scouts of America (BSA), has come out against the organisation’s ban on gays and lesbians, describing it as “discrimination”.
In a statement to the Washington Blade, White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said: “The President believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organisation that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century.
Inouye went on to add: “He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The organisation responded with its own statement: “The Boy Scouts of America respects the opinions of President Obama and appreciates his recognition that Scouting is a valuable organisation. We believe that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”
Obama joins more than 300,000 people who have signed an online petition calling for the BSA to stop restricting gays and lesbians from participating both as members and leaders in the organisation.
Surprisingly, Republican Mitt Romney, Obama’s likely challenger in the November presidential elections, is also against the anti-gay policy.
His spokesperson, Andrea Saul, recently told the AP that Romney stands by his 1994 statement in which he said that “all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation”.
Despite massive pressure to change, the BSA has refused to reconsider the policy and said last month that it will continue to bar gays and lesbians from the organisation.
A number of BSA members and leaders have resigned from the organisation in protest against the ban.
US courts have affirmed the BSA’s right as a private organisation to place restrictions on its membership and to prohibit gays and lesbians from becoming members or serving in leadership positions.