ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, AUG. 6, 2012 AND THEREAFTER - In this Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 photo, Dr. Robert Wise holds his Eagle Scout medal in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Wise, 59, is among several dozen former Eagle Scouts who are relinquishing their medals following the July 17, 2012 announcement that the Boy Scouts of America, after a confidential two-year review, was sticking with the divisive, long-standing policy of excluding openly gay youth and adults as members and leaders. 'I can no longer maintain any connection to an organization which actively promotes such a bigoted and misguided policy,' he wrote to Scout headquarters in Texas. 'To that end, I am interested in removing all evidence that I was ever a Scout.' (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
EDITOR: Seventy-seven years ago, as a teenager, I traveled with my parents to the South, where I was shocked to see signs labeled "For Whites Only" and "For Colored Only" on drinking fountains and restrooms. How could a whole class of people be separated out, not because of anything they'd done but because of the way God had made them?
I have similar feelings today as I read of the present policy of the Boy Scouts of America, which excludes people based on their sexual orientation. I don't doubt the sincerity of those who rely upon a narrow interpretation of Scripture to support the ban, but I think that science and theology have moved on. Another hallowed American documents asserts that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them the pursuit of happiness. For many, that pursuit includes being able to become a Boy Scout.
I pray that all who want to enjoy the benefits of scouting will soon be able to do so.