RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) — A 95-year old Richmond man never thought he’d live long enough to see the Boy Scouts of America lift its ban on gay members.
“I was a Scout master as a boy. I went to camp. I won my merit badges,” says Guy Kinman.
Now Kinman says he’s adding another item to his win column.
He’s been working to change the public’s perception of homosexuals for decades. The reason why this has come and is inevitable is because people that are attracted to someone of the same gender finally got tired of the hatred and being afraid,” says Kinman.
The Boy Scouts leadership is comprised of roughly 1,400 delegates and 60% of them voted to lift the ban.
“Our vision is to serve every kid. We want every kid to have a place where they belong, to learn, and grow and feel protected,” says Boy Scouts of America President, Wayne Perry.
The national dialogue about banning gay Scouts isn’t new. In 2000, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 that scouts had the right to decide who could join. This came after an Eagle scout was removed as an assistant scout because he was gay.
“Sexual orientation is no more chosen than we choose the color of our skin,” says Executive Director of the Gay Community Foundation, Bill Harrison.
He tells CBS 6’s Lorenzo Hall that he applauds the Boy Scouts for realizing its ban was damaging children. “It’s sending the message that because a young man is gay, he’s bad, he’s negative. That’s not the case,” says Harrison.
Both Harrison and Kinman agree that this is a step in the right direction, but say after witnessing the protests ahead of the group’s vote, that they realize there are more challenges ahead.
Some parents have vowed to pull their children out of the youth group because of this decision.
“When they make a decision that puts the interest of a group of activists over the safety and security of my sons, that’s a program that I can no longer trust,” says John Stemberger, a Scout Leader.
The ban allowing gay members will be lifted in January of 2014.