News release from Change.org:
WASHINGTON, DC – The Mitt Romney for President campaign, responding to a 1994 video recently surfaced by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), confirmed over the weekend that Romney still believes gay Americans should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts.
Campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said that Romney’s 1994 comments, where he said that the Boy Scouts should welcome members who are gay, “remains Romney’s position today.”
The announcement from Romney’s campaign comes as Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, who became famous after a YouTube video of a pro-equality speech he gave in 2011 went viral, is unveiling a new “Scouts for Equality” web site highlighting broad support for allowing gays to participate in the Boy Scouts among Eagle Scouts, Scout leaders, politicians, and celebrities.
In the video released by GLAAD, Romney, a former national board member of the Boy Scouts of America, said that sexual orientation should not be a factor when it comes to participating in scouting.
"I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Romney says in the video, prefacing his support for gays and lesbians by stating his belief “that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue.”
The Romney campaign’s affirmation of his 1994 position comes after more than 400,000 Americans, including thousands of Scouts and Scout leaders and two Boy Scout national board members, have signed on in support of two Change.org petitions launched by former lesbian den mother Jennifer Tyrrell and Eagle Scout Zach Wahls.
“Scouts for Equality is proud to have Governor Romney's support on this issue amid such a polarized political climate,” said Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls. “His leadership is to be commended, and we hope he can set an example of how people with differing religious beliefs can come together to support the Boy Scouts of America's mission to serve our communities and develop tomorrow's leaders, regardless of sexual orientation.”
Wahls founded Scouts for Equality after delivering signatures from former lesbian den leader Jennifer Tyrrell’s petition to a BSA national conference in Orlando in May. Wahls hopes the organization’s new site, which launched today, will help Scouts and Scout leaders continue the conversation that was inspired by Tyrrell’s petition.
“If you visit the new scoutsforequality.org, you’ll see Mitt Romney featured among several prominent Scouts, Scout leaders, politicians, and celebrities who support allowing gays to participate in the Boy Scouts,” said Wahls. “Jennifer Tyrrell’s petition started the conversation. Through our new website, Scouts for Equality will continue to expand on this important dialogue and connect supporters from across the country.”
Wahls’ efforts come after the Boy Scouts of America announced in July that they were reaffirming their policy to ban gay scouts and leaders one day before Jennifer Tyrrell, a gay mother who was ousted as den leader from her 7-year-old son’s Cub Scout pack, delivered more than 300,000 signatures from her Change.org petition.
Tyrrell was also encouraged by Romney’s confirmed commitment, but questioned why President Obama, who is the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America, hasn’t spoken out on the issue.
“I’m happy to hear that Mitt Romney’s campaign confirmed his support for the participation of my family, and families like mine, in the Boy Scouts of America,” said Tyrrell, who resides in Ohio, one of the critical electoral battlegrounds in the November election. “I think President Obama should also let the public know what he thinks about a cultural institution like the Boy Scouts banning gay Americans.”