Rally decries Scout policy on gays

Groups protest ruling that shields rejection of homosexual leaders

July 06, 2000|By Melody Holmes | Melody Holmes,SUN STAFF

About 50 people - some of them former scouts - gathered in front of local Boy Scouts of America headquarters in the 700 block of Wyman Park Drive yesterday to protest last week's Supreme Court decision that bars states from forcing Scout troops to accept gay leaders.

Protesters included representatives of several gay-rights organizations. Some carried hand-made signs with such messages as "Teach hope, not hate," and "Legal intolerance is still intolerance."

"The Boy Scouts are sending the message that I'm inherently inferior because of who I am; that's a message that's ridiculous. ... I'm really sad that I have to be here," said Graham Segroves, 25, of Washington, who wore his Eagle Scout uniform shirt.

Among the speakers at the event was the Rev. Kenneth T. South of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington. South, 54, who was involved with Boy Scouts of America for 15 years, said he will be returning his Eagle Scout badge to Boy Scout national headquarters in Texas.

Despite the high court's ruling, South said if he had a son, he would try to enroll him in the Boy Scouts because the organization "gave me incredible amounts of skills in leadership."

Though he's heterosexual, A. Robert Kaufman, 69, said, "Symbolically, the decision is very similar to the Dred Scott decision."

The 1846 decision by a Missouri court said that Dred Scott, a slave, could not sue for his freedom. The court said that only people could bring cases to court, and as a slave, Scott was considered property.

"If the Boy Scouts of America can discriminate against gay leaders," Kaufman said, "they can discriminate against Jewish and Muslim leaders too."

Local Boy Scout headquarters played down yesterday's protest. Bob Myers, of the public relations office said, "They're free to gather if they want to. It's their protest, not ours. I don't think they're interrupting anything we're doing."

Robert Cadwalader, of Linthicum, opposed the protesters and the rainbow-striped American flag they displayed.

"We want no part of gay scout leaders," said Cadwalader, who was with his four sons - Andrew, 16, Richard,14, Ian,12, and Thomas, 7. "I don't want any of my boys to have the slightest problems with a homosexual." Cadwalader and his boys are among the 73,000 Boy Scouts and 16,000 adult volunteers in the Baltimore area.

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