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Scouts' New Leader: Ex-defense Chief Gates

Posted November 27, 2013

BY WARREN COLE SMITH ©2013 Baptist Press

The man who helped pave the way for homosexuals to serve openly in the military will become the new volunteer leader of the Boy Scouts of America in 2014.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates became the president-elect of the BSA on October 30. According to a statement released by the Boy Scouts, "This move means that upon approval of voting members of the National Council, Gates would begin a two-year term as the BSA national president in May 2014." Gates will succeed Wayne Perry, the current national president.

The selection of Gates for this role was unexpected. AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson has been Scouting's BSA president-elect the past two years, and the normal procedure would have been for him to become president. According to Richard Mathews, a former general counsel for the Boy Scouts, "I believe this is unprecedented."

Was the change made because Gates is more likely to allow homosexual leaders in the Boy Scouts? Scouting spokesman Deron Smith said the selection of Gates "is not related to the BSA's membership standards policy." But Smith would not answer questions from WORLD Magazine about Gates' or the BSA's plans for implementing new policy that allows openly homosexual boys to participate in Scouting.

"The BSA just completed a review of its membership policies and there are no plans to discuss it further," Smith said.

Smith added that Gates has had a long association with Scouting and had been slated for a BSA leadership role until his service as secretary of defense and CIA director made that impossible. "This move was made because the BSA had the opportunity to take advantage of a unique moment to add Dr. Gates," Smith said.

Stephenson will continue to serve in the role of president-elect during the Gates presidency. "Aside from timing," Smith said, "nothing has changed."

Matthews, who now serves as general counsel for TrailLife USA, a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts, said it is a "very difficult thing to know" whether Gates will be more or less likely than Stephenson to allow homosexual leaders in the BSA.

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