So, I'm sitting at my desk at work and decide to surf an online news site as a way to keep up with current events, when a headline suddenly hits me like a bullet between the eyes: "High court to hear gay scout case."
With peaked interest, I click on the link to read the article.
As you may already know, James Dale was expelled from the Boy Scouts of America, after they discovered he was co-president of Rutgers University's gay and lesbian organization. The Boy Scouts of America contend that they were justified in firing Dale because, since 1910, they have taught traditional family values, and "an avowed homosexual would not be a role model for those values."
Here's what I don't understand. Why wouldn't a gay male be a role model for traditional family values?
Hypothetically, Dale may be involved in a monogamous, loving, committed relationship with a member of the same sex. No, this is not the accepted traditional family structure, but if Dale is in a loving, committed relationship, then doesn't that qualify as traditional values? Wouldn't it be better for the youth of America to see a gay male in a monogamous, loving, committed relationship than to have the idea drilled into their heads that all gay men sleep around and are predators?
I have had the privilege of having many wonderful gay friends in my life. While some of them have played the field (and who hasn't, gay or straight?), many of them are looking for "the one" -- someone that they can fall in love with, trust and spend the rest of their lives with. How is this not a "traditional value"?
This case has also spurned other disputes around the country. The Narragansett Council of the Scouts in Rhode Island, after being threatened with litigation by a gay 16-year-old Eagle Scout, declared a Scout could be gay, so long as he does not advertise it. I believe that this is a close compromise. I agree with not "advertising" one's sexuality because I don't think that people should be slapped in the face with it. This goes for all the men and women in the office (straight or not) who feel they have to tell the world how lucky they get on the weekend. No, don't come to a troop meeting and discuss the argument that you had with your partner ... it's no one's business and probably more interesting to you than the rest of us. Ditto to the troop leader who decides to "brag" about the woman he is sleeping with. Keep it to yourself.
On the flip side, I don't agree with not being allowed to advertise one's sexuality because it really closes doors. This smacks of the "Don't ask, don't tell" rule that the military has adopted. I think that a gay troop leader should be allowed to be openly gay given that he will be dealing with many young men who might have questions about their own sexuality.
A close friend of mine admitted to me that when he was first discovering his sexuality, he felt suicidal. He felt lonely. As a Roman Catholic, he didn't feel he could turn to his local priest and his rosary-clutching mother just didn't feel like the right person either.
My friend was lucky. Many young men actually commit suicide because they cannot handle the realization that they are gay. But, what if these struggling young men had an openly gay male figure in their lives? What if they were able to discuss their feelings with a positive gay figure? Would that have made the difference? Could that have kept my friend from sinking into a two-year depression? Unfortunately, we do not know.
The Boy Scouts of America organization says homosexuality contradicts its oath requiring scouts to be "morally straight" -- straight being the operative word.
James Dale's fight began in 1992. His case has finally made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. It will be interesting to see the outcome. Will it keep one more positive role model from the gay community from being exposed? I hope not.
James Dale's case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last Wednesday. A ruling on the case can be expected some time in July. Melissa Dinger is a Colorado Springs resident, and a reader of the Independent.