WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The Boy Scouts of America should end its ban on gays, President Barack Obama said as the Scouts’ board was to mull lifting the ban at a meeting to begin Monday.
“Yes,” Obama said in a one-word answer when asked by CBS News in a Super Bowl pregame interview if the Boy Scouts should be open to gay members and leaders.
Asked to elaborate, Obama said, “Gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life.
“The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to, you know, opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives, and I think that nobody should be barred from that,” Obama said.
Obama last year backed the right of same-sex couples to marry and voiced his support for gay rights in his second inaugural address two weeks ago.
Concerning Scouting, the White House said last August Obama disagreed with the organization’s ban on gay members, but Sunday’s interview was Obama’s first public addressing of the issue since the Scouts said last week it would consider lifting the ban when it holds its national executive board meeting.
The meeting was to begin Monday at the Scouts’ headquarters in Irving, Texas, outside Dallas.
The group could decide to let chartered organizations determine local policy, the Scouts said in a statement.
The vote is expected to take place Wednesday, on the board meeting’s last day.
The Scouts reaffirmed its no-gays policy seven months ago.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, urged the Scouts Saturday to maintain its policies prohibiting gay members and leaders.
“Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life lessons,” said Perry, who opposes gay marriage and other equality efforts by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups. “Sexuality is not one of them, never has been, doesn’t need to be.”
Perry, a former Eagle Scout, wrote a book in 2008 titled, “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For.”