(AP/CBS 46) – The national president of the Boy Scouts, Robert Gates, says the organization’s longstanding ban on participation by openly gay adults is no longer sustainable and is urging change in order to avert potentially destructive legal battles.
In a speech Thursday in Atlanta to the Scouts’ national annual meeting, Gates referred to recent moves by Scout councils in New York City and elsewhere to defy the ban.
“The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” said Gates, the former U.S. secretary of defense under President Obama.
“I am not asking the national board for any action to change our current policy at this meeting,” Gates said. “But I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to presidents when I was director of CIA and secretary of defense. We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.”
Gates said no change in the policy would be made at the national meeting. But he raised the possibility of revising the policy at some point soon so that local Scout organizations could decide on their own whether to allow gays as leaders.
Gates served as the U.S. secretary of defense from 2006 to July 2011. He also was the director of CIA from 1991 to 1993 and served as president of Texas A&M University as well.
In 2010, Gates was at the forefront of repealing the U.S. Military’s policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The policy stated gay men and women could serve in the military as long as they were not “out,” and their commanding officers couldn’t ask those serving about their sexual orientation.