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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

May 24, 2013 at 6:22 AM

The Boy Scouts, gays, and the right to decide who can join

Illustration by Jennifer Kohnke/Op Art

Illustration by Jennifer Kohnke/Op Art

More than a decade ago, in a column on this page,  I made the comment that the Boy Scouts had the right to exclude gays. It was in the context of a column about them excluding atheists, and about an atheist who challenged the Scouts’ right to exclude him.  I wrote:

“Whether it should do it is something else. If Scouting gets out of synch with mainstream American values, it will die. My guess is that the Scouts will change its doctrine, just as the Latter-day Saints did about women. But it is the Scouts’ decision. To call the cops to enforce diversity because the Scouts used a public park, or a National Forest outhouse, is not liberal; it is authoritarian.”

The culture was changing in 2002, and the change continued. Now the Boy Scouts will admit gays. In a liberal town like Seattle, that decision seems long overdue, and probably in some conservative places it feels radical. Anyway, it is done. I think it was the right decision. I am glad it was the Boy Scouts’ decision, because in a free country a private organization should have the right to decide for itself.

I note that it still refuses to admit atheists. If I were of scouting age, it wouldn’t admit me, then.

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