In an earlier post today I mentioned that some folks need to lay blame for the failure of the Illinois legislature to vote on marriage equality last week, and a lot of those people began blaming the Black Churches, Black people, people who wear black; whatever.
The deal is this: there are some Black Churches, and their leaders, who work against marriage equality, but not all do; just like they are some Black people who work to keep discrimination alive, but not all do. So, the idea of laying blame, saying ‘they’ did this, annoys me, which leads to this story.
Lotsa folks hate the Mormon Church—though maybe hate is too strong a word—because of their fighting for Prop H8 in California and funding Prop H8 in California. But, see, it isn’t all Mormons. I mean, let’s look at Donny and Marie, the poster grandparents—they used to be the poster children, but sadly, they grew up—of the Mormon Church: Donny is against marriage equality, Marie is not. So, not all Black folks are anti-equality, and not all Mormons are either.
Case in point: This past weekend Utah held their annual Pride parade, and for the first time Boy Scouts and adult BSA volunteers wore their uniforms as they marched, defying a BSA leader who said they could not participate in the parade because of the BSA’s guidelines prohibiting advocating political or social positions.
Rick Barnes, chief scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council:
"We as a Scouting movement do not advocate any social or political position, so I reminded Mr. Brownstein [Peter Brownstein, a Scoutmaster in Salt Lake City, helped organize the Boy Scouts participation in the march] that we do not wear uniforms at an event like this. We do not, as Boy Scouts, show support for any social or political position. We're neutral. If he wants to attend the parade and others do that are Scouts or Scouters, they're welcome to do so as private citizens wearing whatever they want except their uniform. That's our official position. It always has been, there's nothing new here. We just don't want people to use the Boy Scouts to advocate their positions."
They did it anyway. Not all Boy Scouts, Boy Scout leaders, or volunteers, are anti-LGBT. See how that works?
"It just feels like the right thing to do. It's kind of a way of saying we want you here. Scouting has been a very positive influence in my life, and I'd like to see more people take advantage of it now that the ban has been lifted."—Kenji Mikesell, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout
Mikesell, whose troop is chartered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, marched with Mormons Building Bridges—a group seeking to untie the LGBT community and the Mormon faith.
It wasn't clear what the consequences of wearing their uniforms would be, but in a statement BSA spokesman, Deron Smith it was up to the local council to determine any punishment:
"These individuals stated a personal opinion and do not represent Scouting. Scouting teaches young people that often in life one finds rules they don’t agree with, but a Scout is to be obedient. To simply disobey a rule because you disagree with it is not an example to set for youth. It is up to each council to determine how best to hold their leaders to the standards of Scouting. We will support the Greater Salt Lake Area Council as they determine the appropriate response."
Now, my take.
Rick Barnes, in his statement, said scout were ‘neutral’ regarding social and political causes, but where was that neutrality all those years that the BSA was telling gay scouts to get out? He says he doesn’t want people to use Boy Scouts to advocate their position but how many times have we listened to the BSA call homosexuality a sin and say that gay scouts had no place in the organization?
Methinks Mr. Barnes scored very high on his Hypocrisy Badge.
And then Deron Smith suggest that it’s best to teach young boys not to question authority but to just goosestep along with whatever the leaders say. “To simply disobey a rule because you disagree with it is not an example to set for youth.”
Um, but it is a good example to set, Mr. Smith. How would we as a country have gotten anywhere if we hadn’t disobeyed the rules? From England, after we first settled here, all the way through to Black youth sitting at a lunch counter in Woolworth's, and the LGBT Americans who, on that June day back in 1969, finally had enough and stood up for our community, we have always disobeyed rules to move forward.
These two men want to keep the BSA in the past; the bigoted, stay-in-the-closet past. They seem to be the ones who aren’t neutral and cannot obey the rules.