Family Groups Warn Clinton to Lay Off Boy Scouts

By Lawrence Morahan
CNS Senior Staff Writer

( - Family groups expressed shock Thursday over a federal investigation to determine if the Boy Scouts of America's ban on homosexual scout masters is in violation of President Clinton's executive order barring discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation."

"It is outrageous for the Clinton-Gore administration to be preparing for a witch hunt against the Boy Scouts, an institution that has served our nation's young men in extraordinary fashion since 1913," said Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo, MS-based American Family Association.

The AFA is calling for a full-scale congressional investigation into "this persecution."

The outrage was sparked when a senior Department of the Interior official instructed employees to gather information on the federal government's ties to the Boy Scouts.

The Bureau of Reclamation "will assist [the Department of Justice] by providing information as it relates to the Boy Scouts of America to ensure consistency with the Executive Order" Clinton signed on June 23, Nattie Silva, assistant director of diversity and equal opportunity for the bureau, said in an e-mail sent out Tuesday.

In her memo, Silva instructs employees to "identify and explain all activities, events or programs that each of your bureaus has with the Boy Scouts of America, specifically including, but not limited to, any such programs related to the Boy Scout Jamboree to be held in July 2001" at Fort AP Hill in Virginia.

A copy of the memo was obtained by the Family Research Organization and published in its weekly Culture Facts.

Reaction by conservatives and family groups was swift.

Representative JC Watts (R-OK), chairman of the House Republican Conference, said, "The Boy Scouts are not a hate group. For the Interior and Justice departments of the Clinton-Gore administration to be investigating the Boy Scouts because they teach our children to have high moral ideals is an absolute insult to families and scouts. This is election year pandering by Clinton-Gore."

In a statement, Republican presidential contender George W Bush also condemned the investigation: "I am troubled by this memo appearing to suggest that the Clinton-Gore administration might sever the federal government's long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.

"For many years, the Boy Scouts have conducted jamborees and other events on public lands and provided thousands of volunteer hours to help maintain our national parks. I hope that President Clinton and Vice President Gore respect the role the Boy Scouts play in our society and will not allow them to be shut out of federal lands," he said.

Clinton's June 23 Executive Order Number 13160 banning discrimination against homosexuals came just five days before the US Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts had a constitutional right to bar open homosexuals from membership and leadership roles.

The order prohibits discrimination on the basis of "race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation and status as a parent in federally conducted education and training programs."

However, the Supreme Court declared the Scouts to be a private group, not a "public accommodation" subject to civil rights laws.

American Renewal, a conservative public policy group, called the investigation "deeply disturbing."

"This appears to be yet another instance of the Clinton administration kowtowing to the demands of the militant homosexual lobby and its radical political agenda," AR vice president Richard Lessner said.

"For the federal government to marshal its forces against this wholesome organization to satisfy the demands of a noisy special interest group should offend every American," he added.

Calls to the Gore campaign for its position on the Boy Scouts were not returned.


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