A conservative group called "Texas Values" is taking a new approach in the battle to make sure that no Lone Star boy scout ever, ever gets cooties from being near a gay person -- the group is circulating a letter urging the Boy Scouts of America to reject gay scouts, it's getting elected officials to sign it and it's proudly trumpeting the results.
Right now, it's up to 60 elected officials, and the number is expected to grow.
President Barack Obama, who probably has more pressing problems to deal with at the moment, urged the Irving-based scouting group to accept openly gay members in a pre-Super Bowl interview on 60 Minutes. That followed the announcement that the Boy Scouts might allow the civic and religious groups that sponsor Boy Scout units to make their own decisions on the inclusion of openly gay members.
Texas Values, which advertises itself as standing for faith, freedom and family in Texas, has taken to social media to announce, one by one, the state elected officials who have signed onto an open letter that asks BSA to stand firm against a liberal agenda. To date, 60 elected Republicans have signed the letter.
"Scouts begin each meeting with an Oath, 'To do my duty, to God and my country, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight,'" according to the letter. "By caving in to pressure from the social left, the national leadership would violate each of those principles."
Last year, when the Scouts again affirmed their no gays-no atheists policy, openly gay Eagle Scouts renounced their membership in the group. Over at Change.org, a petition to reinstate a Scout mom and den leader who was removed for being a lesbian has drawn 341,000 signatures.
Texas officials who signed onto the letter include many of the right-leaning members of the two legislative chambers. Senators Dan Patrick of Houston, Glenn Hegar of Katy, Tommy Williams of The Woodlands and freshman Larry Taylor of Friendswood are all supporters of the letter. Houston-area Representatives on the letter include Cecil Bell of Magnolia, Dwayne Bohac, Dan Huberty and Gary Elkins of Houston, Greg Bonnen of Friendswood, Rick Miller of Sugar Land, Dennis Bonnen of Angleton and Allen Fletcher of Cypress.
Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values contends the Boy Scouts would be signing away their right to decide who should and should not be in the group, a position affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2000. Texas Values speculates that sponsors, left to defend themselves, would be likely to abandon scouting rather than deal with messy public protracted battles over Scout applicants, not to mention openly gay Scout leaders.
Governor Rick Perry's name is noticeably absent from the letter, but Saenz said the governor has made his support of the current policy clear. In comments to the media, Perry, an Eagle Scout, has said the teaching of sexual preferences does not fit within the longtime mission of the Boy Scouts.
The National Executive Board is expected to vote on the policy again in May, when the board gathers for its annual meeting in Grapevine.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.