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Trib Talk: Utahns react to Boy Scouts' proposal on gay members

Published May 3, 2013 7:41 am

Online • The latest proposal goes to a vote on May 18.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Paul Mero, president of Utah's conservative Sutherland Institute, said Wednesday he believes gay Boy Scout leaders could have grounds for a lawsuit, based on the organization's proposal to allow gay youth to join but continue to ban gay adults.

"If I was a member of the gay community, I would probably call the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and I'd file another lawsuit, just to highlight the inequity of the whole idea," Mero said during Wednesday's live online forum Trib Talk, offered by The Salt Lake Tribune.

The online chat centered around a possible new admissions policy for the Boy Scouts of America, which will go to a vote by selected leaders on May 24, and the LDS Church's statement that it was "satisfied" with the proposal.

Joining in the discussion was Kendall Wilcox, an openly gay member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an Eagle Scout.

Wilcox said the Boy Scouts and the LDS Church have been affiliated for the past 100 years.

"Scouting is enmeshed in the young men's program in the church," Wilcox said. "I'd be a different person had I not been allowed to participate in Boy Scouts. I'm in favor and happy the church has chosen to express its support of this proposal."

Mero said he objected to the issue being "politicized."

"The BSA is a private organization and the Supreme Court has said as recently as 2000 that they have a right to set their own policies," Mero said. "For me, whatever they decide to do is their business."

In the end, the discussion moved to whether people choose to be gay or are born gay.

Trib Talk host Jennifer Napier-Pearce, a Tribune reporter, asked Mero about his recent blog essay "Scouts, Saints and 'sexual orientation.'" Both the BSA and the LDS Church draw distinctions between sexual orientation and sexual behavior.

"I can see why the Boy Scouts have settled on the compromise they have settled on," Mero said. "And I can also see why the gay community could be upset with that compromise."

rparker@sltrib.com

Twitter@rayutah