All-Star Panel: What does possible Boy Scouts change mean for gay rights?

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 29, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.



BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: President Obama of course at the inauguration talking about what he characterized as a civil rights issue, gay rights. And this comes in a broader context as we are talking about immigration, also the Boy Scouts. Only seven months after the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its decision, its right to exclude gays, 13 years after the Supreme Court said that private organizations could, in fact, exclude anybody, the Boy Scouts of America is going to decide next week and make it official to drop its national prohibition against gay scouts, scout masters and volunteers, expected next week. There are some people that have a major problem with that.


ED WHELAN, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE: Somehow, in the name of diversity all organizations need to be the same.

I think this is part of the broader assault on what sociologists call civil society, on the ability of people to live out their lives though community organizations. They're different. They reflect the wonderful diversity of America.

ROB SCHWARZWALDER, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: This is not about homophobia, this isn't about anything resembling that. It's about the fact that the overwhelming majority of the families and scouts adhere to a traditional biblical view of moral values with which we think homosexuality is incompatible. We don't want our sons mentored by gay men.


BAIER: What about this, we're back with the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think the first thing we have to remember in this is that each side ought to give the other side some respect. I know that the gay rights side wants to argue that this is a civil rights issue, it's a matter of equality. And I respect that.

On the other hand, there are people who believe for reasons that are religious or other, that the Catholic Church, for example, that they have qualms, to put it mildly, about homosexuality. You know, and the Catholic Church has a billion adherents, and for all of its human flaws is an institution that has done unparalleled good in the world and continues those good work. So it ought not be denigrated.

When Obama speaks about all this, I believe he is passionate about it. But let's remember, for the first three-and-a-half years of his presidency he was against gay marriage. So I think it is rather odd. If you call people who oppose it bigoted, then what you have to say is that Obama in the first three- and-a-half years of his presidency was bigoted, which I think is absurd.

So I'd like to see the two sides agree on at least respecting each other's sincerity and depths of belief. And I would say if the Boy Scouts does this on its own that is the way civil society ought to work. What I object to is coercion of the state. Let the institutions -- and it will change over time. Obviously it's a generational issue. Three states approved gay marriage in a referendum in 2012. It is changing. But allow private institutions to evolve in their own way without the heavy hand of the state.


A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, President Obama moved on this issue, and surely it was calculated politically to catch up for the last 10 years in the country has been one of the biggest changes that we have witnessed, one of the swiftest changes that we have seen in our society. Politicians are having trouble catching up with that but they read the polls and they know what is going on.

That said, the Boy Scouts are not endeavoring to change their long- standing tradition so much to be because they want to welcome homosexuals and to be inclusive as they do not feel they can survive as an exclusive organization anymore. They have lost members in protest. They are not getting enough new members, and they are losing financial support. And they believe that this is something that they have to do for their survival.

So surely the question of how you integrate the Boy Scouts, that is an extremely complicated matter.

BAIER: Sure, but two of the largest contributors are the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church. So you have manpower and financial money coming from places that don't really support homosexuality there.

STODDARD: They are doing this for a reason. Their members say it's because they are losing their ability to carry on. They are losing financial support and big donors have asked them to do this.

BAIER: OK, Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THEDAILYCALLER.COM: Are the Boy Scouts really in trouble because there are gay scout masters? Maybe Americans just aren't into uniforms in the way they used to be.

I think it is fascinating the amount of attention paid to this and other issues like it. And I think it's another example of the sort of soft cultural collusion between Democratic politicians and the media, both of whom see this as the next civil rights movement, an issue of great historical importance.  And they give it, I would argue -- and I'm all for gay rights, but they give it undue attention. We have an economy that has collapsed and in transition towards who knows what, a dollar that's devalued, a debt that is reaching an existential crisis. Latin America is becoming Cuba, the Middle East is collapsing. And by the way, if you care about cultural issues, more than 40 percent of American kids are born out of wedlock to straight couples.

STODDARD: Tucker, this is the Boy Scouts decision.


CARLSON: But I'm merely saying -- look at the New York Times every day there are 19 stories on gay marriage. Get some perspective, that's all I'm saying.

BAIER: With that I need to run. That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for some extra insight in the president's sit-down interview recently. 

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