Bullying Boy Scouts is bad for business

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Gay activists should quit bullying the Boy Scouts of America and its supporters in the business community.

The BSA will vote in May whether to lift a long-standing ban on homosexual scouts and adult leaders.

Gays want the ban gone and they've won many battles.

But here they could be tampering with a national treasure that keeps paying dividends, generation after generation.

The issue poses a threat of business boycotts, too. Many companies support Scouting. From a business prospective it produces nothing but positives: better prepared students, workers, executives, and when we need them, military people. The economy remains sluggish and more taxes, health care costs and regulations are coming.

Amidst all this the Boy Scouts of America has to wrestle with a life-threatening issue unthinkable in the past: whether to accept troop leaders who are sexually attracted to persons of the same sex.

To countless parents, common sense would just say no. Religious leaders find an absolute “no” in holy writ, and many Scout troops wouldn't exist without church sponsors. Even the Supreme Court spoke, ruling that the BSA, a private organization, can set membership rules. Case closed, you'd think.

Except for the public pressure.

A citizenly right isn't at issue; rather, a social exclusion. It can be cruel, as in the recent case of an Ohio lesbian mother ousted as leader of her son's Cub Scout pack.

It's a safe bet that every leader in Scouting has wrestled with the rights and wrongs in the privacy of conscience.

So here's a suggestion. Why not leave it at that?

When the BSA's national council of 1,400 members votes (more than in Congress) the decision should not carry the taint of compulsion.

If it takes duress to get a good deed done, the results aren't going to be great.

Fewer Scouts, for one. Many sponsoring organizations could drop their support. Many a Dad might say, “Get our kid out of there.”

On the other hand, an unforced decision in a welcoming spirit would hold up much better. Yes, it may not happen. It may never happen. But it's the only victory worth having.

For the Scouts simply to “cave” would be a loss for everybody. Just one more cultural icon with clay feet, right?

Last week a Scout troop gave a pancake breakfast at an East End church. Attendees found clean-cut kids of all races in uniforms with merit badges, cooking and serving, bussing tables, getting a free enterprise lesson in financing such activities as camping trips (even in winter). Dads and moms helped. Adult volunteer time and effort — driving, delivering, motivating — were all obvious. Downsides: none.

Here's a longer perspective. As trillion-dollar deficits pile up, fiscal collapse grows likelier five, 10, 20 years down the road. A ruined dollar, hyperinflation, financial wipeout for millions — can you imagine the blame games about who “betrayed” the country? Grown-up Boy Scouts will be good to have around then.

So homosexuals have as much stake as anyone in a stable society and responsible younger generation. They'll be glad someday not to undercut the Boy Scouts. They have made their case. Now they should rest their case.

Jack Markowitz is a Thursday columnist for Trib Total Media. Email jmarkowitz@tribweb.com.

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