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With Boy Scout leaders preparing to vote Thursday on whether to accept openly gay Scouts, protesters on both sides are descending upon the suburb of Grapevine, Tex.
People from various perspectives who are interested in the vote outcome – scheduled to be announced around 5 p.m. Dallas-Fort Worth time – will be visible at marches, rallies and likely non-stop press availabilities. Expect to see Scouts and their families, adult leaders and people who have no direct connection with Scouting but are revved up about whether openly gay Scouts affirm or mar Boy Scout values.
On the table: a resolution to end the Scouts’ longtime ban on openly gay members. The existing ban on openly gay adult leaders would remain.
What you likely won’t see: the people making the decision. That’s because the names of the 1,400-member National Council – leaders from around the country — are kept confidential. The majority of people voting have not made their names, nor how they plan to vote, public.
“It’s not that their names are secret, it’s just that I can’t release information about volunteers without their permission,” said Aaron Chusid, a spokesman for the National Capital Area Council, which serves 56,000 youth in the Washington region. The council (which also includes 22,000 adult volunteers) is tied for the third-largest Scout council in the United States.
Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney wrote about the anonymity issue a few days ago, noting that only two out of 10 members of the Capital Area Council have agreed to release their names (not their voting plans). He said the leaders “are showing no courage at all” by remaining unknown.
There are nearly 300 councils around the country, and they pick their voting members in different ways. There’s no open vote among Scouts’ families, and that’s why people don’t even know the names of those representing them in Texas.
Polling shows a divided Scouting community, and many large groups involved in the Scouts are remaining mum – or vague – on their plans, regardless of the outcome. Earlier this week, the liaison between Scouts and the Catholic Church – one of the biggest organizations that charters troops – sent a letter that appears to show the Church will try to remain involved in Scouting even if the ban is lifted. The liaison did not respond to Post requests for clarifications. Local Catholics officials say they won’t comment until after the vote.
More on the BSA gay policy: