By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com February 20 2013 2:55 PM ET
The Boy Scouts of America's national director of government and community relations all but came out in favor of repealing the organization's long-standing ban on gay scouts and scoutmasters at a fundraiser in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday night.
Willie Iles, Jr., told BSA members he had no opinion on the matter, before going on to highlight the organization's exclusionary past in historical and biblical contexts. Iles noted that the discrimination runs contrary to BSA's stated intention to be "open to all boys," reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Iles, who is black, pointed out that when the South was still segregated, the BSA left the decision to integrate up to local councils, and began allowing women to serve as den mothers just forty years ago.
Iles drove home the point — without explicitly endorsing a policy change — when he noted that the BSA is the only nonprofit, nonreligious group with a written policy that excludes certain people, according to the Star-Telegram. Iles recited the first 14 words of the Boy Scout Oath, dramatically stopping after saying, "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God…,"
"What if I have four sons," Iles asked rhetorically, "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? And Matthew is gay?"
The Star-Telegram says Iles again reiterated that he had "no opinion" on the matter, but then pointed out that there are 16,000 public school systems in the United States, many with gay teachers.
"And yet we don't have people running to pull their kids out of school," Iles said.
Iles concluded by noting that although many Scout troops are supported by local churches, the BSA is "in the outreach industry, not a Bible study class."
Read more about Iles' comments here.