A group that opposes the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay members is using presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to help make its case.
Romney’s campaign restated his position that gay people should be allowed to join the Boy Scouts of America in an Associated Press story published on Saturday.
Romney first declared his support for gay scouts and leaders in 1994—when he was a member of the organization’s executive board—during an unsuccessful run for US Senate. In a debate that year, Romney said, “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the AP that the former Massachusetts governor nominee feels the same way today.
Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality, said in a press release Tuesday that his group is “proud to have Governor Romney’s support on this issue amid such a polarized political climate.”
“His leadership is to be commended, and we hope he can set an example of how people with differing religious beliefs can come together to support the Boy Scouts of America’s mission to serve our communities and develop tomorrow’s leaders, regardless of sexual orientation,” Wahls said.
Though Romney has said his personal belief is that the Boy Scouts should admit gay participants, he has never publicly pressured the organization to change its policy.
Last month, the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its ban on gay members after a two-year review, saying the policy “reflects the beliefs and perspectives” of the organization.
Scouts for Equality reports 436,597 supporters on its website, including more than 1,000 Eagle Scouts who have signed a petition to end the ban on gay members; 170 men have renounced their Eagle awards, the Boy Scouts’ highest distinction.