By Rachel La Corte Associated Press
OLYMPIA, Wash. — A spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna said Thursday that the attorney general, who is also an Eagle Scout, disagrees with the Boy Scouts’ recent reaffirmation of its national policy to exclude gays from its ranks.
McKenna, who currently serves on the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America, has had some initial conversations with other Boy Scout volunteers in the state on how “at least locally, the leaders out here could encourage the national organization to reconsider the national policy,” said campaign spokesman Charles McCray.
“It’s something that is on his radar,” he said.
McKenna’s Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, also said he was disappointed with the Scouts’ decision, which was announced Tuesday.
“Our state and our country has moved ahead rapidly with eliminating discrimination,” Inslee said Wednesday during a meeting with the Olympia political press corps. “We’ve done it in the military, we’ve done it in education, and we ought to be able to do that in the Scouts, as well. So I’m hopeful this will be revisited as soon as possible.”
An 11-member special committee, formed by top Scout leaders two years ago, came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy — which applies to both adult leaders and Scouts — “is absolutely the best policy” for the 102-year-old organization.
As a result of Tuesday’s decision, the Scouts’ national executive board will take no further action on a resolution submitted at its recent national conference asking for reconsideration of the membership policy.
The long-standing policy was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. Washington state was one of the states that filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, arguing that the Boy Scouts should not be allowed to discriminate.
“The strongest and most vital institutions that we see are those that value diversity and respect,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a written statement after this week’s decision. Gregoire was Attorney General of Washington state when the state filed its brief before the high court. “Here in Washington state we’ve long known that discrimination shouldn’t have a place in our society and I stand by that belief. Diversity makes us stronger, it makes us better.”
Washington state has had a gay civil rights law in place since 2006, when the Legislature added “sexual orientation” to a state law that bans discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and credit. The state also has had domestic partnership laws since 2007, and it passed a gay marriage law earlier this year, which is on hold pending a referendum vote in November.
Inslee supports upholding the gay marriage law, while McKenna does not.