Palazzo urges Boy Scouts to uphold ban on gay members, leaders - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Palazzo urges Boy Scouts to uphold ban on gay members, leaders

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Mississippi Congressman Steven Palazzo is stepping into the debate over whether the Boy Scouts of America should allow gay members or leaders.

Scouting leaders could decide this week to drop their national ban on gays within the organization. It's one of the topics up for discussion during a three-day meeting that began Monday.

That same day, Representative Steven Palazzo sent a letter to Wayne Perry, President of the Boy Scouts of America, urging the group to "refuse to give in to peer-pressure from politicians and media outlets by allowing openly gay members and adults as part of the organization. They only seek to impose their liberal agenda with reckless disregard of the impact that this significant membership policy change would have on our children."

Palazzo said such a "significant change" to membership policies "would compromise the overall message of the Boy Scots, undermine its spiritual principles, and create conflicting membership policies among local chapters."

Read Rep. Palazzo's full letter here: http://wlox.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/PalazzoBSA.pdf

Rep. Palazzo said he himself was once a boy scout, and strongly believes in the Scout Oath, which reads, in part, "To do my duty to God and my country."

"This tenet should not be compromised," Palazzo wrote, "because faith and religious beliefs play a significant role in a child's development. Unfortunately, this tradition and these values are under attack... I strongly oppose this policy change and urge the Boy Scouts of America to stand firm on traditional and moral values."

Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith issued a statement earlier saying even if the national ban on gays is dropped, the organization would leave the final decision on membership up to local units.

"Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs," the statement said. "Many Scout packs and troops are sponsored by religious groups that oppose gay membership," Smith wrote.

The Supreme Court held in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the freedom of association allows private organizations to exclude a person from membership when "the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group's ability to advocate public or private viewpoints."

So what do you think about the issue? Should the Boy Scouts reverse their current policy and allow for openly gay members and leaders? Or do you agree with Rep. Palazzo that the organization should "stand firm on traditional and moral values"?

Share your opinions on our WLOX Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WLOXTV/posts/327567140677508

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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