This is one of those historic moments when, right before we jump for joy, we hesitate for a second to think, How has this not happened yet?
Today, the Boy Scouts’ New York chapter told prejudice to take a hike. It announced that it has hired the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout as a leader at its scout camps this summer — which is in direct opposition to the national scouting organization’s ban on openly gay adult members.
The new employee is Pascal Tessier, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout who has been a vocal advocate of (finally) opening the 105-year-old organization to gay leaders. He was also the first-known out gay scout.
Although the national Boy Scouts of America changed its membership policies in 2013 to allow openly gay youth members, it has kept its doors closed to openly gay adult members.
Should the national leadership push back on the hiring process, Tessier's lawyer David Boies is prepared to step in.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Boies urged the president of the Boy Scouts, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, to put an end to the ban:
He knows himself that ending this discrimination is the right thing to do. He’s always been a leader and part of the function of a leader is to move things along, and I think the Boy Scouts need somebody who is prepared to stand up and say, "This is the right thing to do, and this is the right time to do it."
Richard Mason, an Eagle Scout who serves on the board of the New York chapter, said they passed on Tessier's application to the national board for vetting and so far "they have not ... rejected" him.
The Boy Scouts of America has said it doesn't "proactively inquire" about the sexual orientation of their scouts or leaders — essentially mimicking the military's antiquated "Don’t ask, don’t tell" policy. But the organization has fired adult members who have spoken openly about being gay.
Let's hope that Gates — who actually oversaw the end of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy — will not only let Tessier's hiring slide, but also support it. That way, we could start to put this ugly chapter in American history behind us. Plus, a very deserving counselor could inspire some campers this summer.
Photo Credit: Pascal Tessier/Facebook