On Tuesday, the Boy Scouts quickly snuffed out a flicker of hope that a gay Eagle Scout candidate in California might actually earn the rank after his local council threw their support behind him. That flicker came from news that a local review board vowed to challenge the Boy Scouts' decision not to award Brian Andresen the Eagle rank due to his sexual orientation. But just hours after that report went live, a Boy Scouts executive reaffirmed the initial decision on Tuesday and told CNN that Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council rejected the Eagle Scout application for 18-year-old Ryan Andresen due to "membership standards," specifically "duty to God, avowed homosexuality, and the fact that he is now over 18 years of age." The boy's father, Eric Andresen, said in response, "It's pretty upsetting, and it's wrong. The whole thing has been wrong since day one."
You might remember Ryan from last October, when the Boy Scouts initially rejected his Eagle Scout application. He'd completed all of the requirements and everything. Evidently, he was just too gay to be an Eagle Scout. His case won national media attention after his mother started a Change.org petition that ended up collective nearly half a million signatures. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Senator Barbara Boxer also sent letters to the Boy Scouts, urging them to reconsider their decision. But the organization was being consistent with an July 2012 decision -- and working within its constitutional rights -- not to change its policies regarding the ineligibility of gay Scouts. This is the one that prompted dozens of Eagle Scouts to send back their awards in protest.
Well, now six months after upholding its discriminatory policy and three after denying Andresen his rank, the Boy Scouts aren't budging. The policy specifically states that the Boy Scouts will "not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA." Since they're a private organization, the Boy Scouts are free to set membership requirements as they please, no matter how bigoted they may seem.
The good news for the progressively minded set of scouting enthusiasts out there is that instances of local councils standing up for scouts like Andresen are on the rise. GLAAD President Herndon Graddick recently said that this is how they'll be forced to reconsider. "How long can the BSA go on ignoring its own members and its core values of fairness, leadership and integrity?" he said. "The growing number of councils welcoming gay scouts and leaders reminds BSA autocrats: change will come with you, or without you."