The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 2, 2013

Boy Scouts mull new gay policy: Local council says it will back national guidelines

JOHNSTOWN — Boy Scouts of America soon may no longer hold a universal position on whether homosexuals can be members or leaders.

The organization has strictly banned participation by openly gay individuals since its founding in 1910. Its ban was upheld by a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000 and reaffirmed by the Scouts as recently as last year. Earlier this week, though, the organization announced that it is re-examining the longstanding policy. An official change could come within the next few days.

BSA is considering an approach that would leave the decision to accept or ban homosexuals to the individual troops.

Locally, Cambria County Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III, a past president of the Boy Scouts Northeast region, feels the national organization is abdicating its responsibility by not making a universal policy one way or another.

“They should not wash their hands of a tough decision. ... If we’re going to develop leaders to make tough decisions, they should make tough decisions,” Krumenacker said.

He feels a splintered policy could harm Scouting.

“I think it would be detrimental for the Boy Scouts not to speak with one voice,” said Krumenacker. “This is a very delicate question. It is one that needs addressed, and I think it’s long overdue to be addressed. It needs to come from the BSA, not the individual unit level.”

The Laurel Highlands Council, which covers much of southwestern Pennsylvania, including Cambria, Somerset, Westmoreland and Bedford counties, plans to support whatever policy is set on the national level.

Sponsors, such as religious, civic or educational organizations, would help make decisions concerning homosexual participation. “The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” said Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith in a statement.

Nearly 70 percent of the nation’s 110,000 Scouting units are chartered by religious organizations.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Roman Catholic Church are two of the largest sponsors, serving approximately 420,000 and 280,000 Scouts, respectively.

“The Church is aware that BSA is contemplating a change in its leadership policy,” said Latter-day Saints spokesman Michael Purdy. “However, BSA has not yet made any such change. Until we are formally notified that it has done so, it would be inappropriate for the Church to comment.”

Gay advocacy groups have opposed the exclusion for years.

Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the heterosexual son of lesbian parents, collected more than 275,000 signatures on a petition to lift the ban. Several organizations, including the Intel Foundation and Merck Co. Foundation, ceased providing financial support to BSA because of the policy.

Philip Bayush, a representative of the Keystone Alliance, a

Johnstown-based LGBT support group, called the possible change “a step in the right direction.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • new councilman Judge fills City Council vacancy

    A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cawley Lt. Gov. Cawley pushes jobs plan during Johnstown visit

    Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley got to see firsthand many of the training tools used by Hiram G. Andrews Center students on Thursday and took some time to promote a program called Jobs for All, part of Gov. Tom Corbett’s JOBS1st PA agenda.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • home VIDEO | Volunteers ‘blitz build’ replacement home for Upper Yoder man

    One week ago, Joey Varmecky had almost nothing.
    In October, a flue fire claimed his Swank Street home. That night, Varmecky, a deaf and partially blind man who doesn’t speak, showed up on the doorstep of his friend’s home. His feet were covered only by a pair of stockings.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Toomey & Shuster Bill would help identify unclaimed remains of veterans

    The cremated remains of an estimated 47,000 veterans are stored throughout the United States, sometimes in nothing more than nondescript metal canisters on shelves.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • million Lucky Seward man finds ticket to riches

    People often play the lottery and dream about the things they would do if they won the big one.
    That dream came true for Karl Kadi of Seward, who won $1 million on a $20 Max-A-Million scratch-off lottery ticket.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farrish, James State police make another drug bust on turnpike

    A Pittsburgh man was jailed Thursday after state police said they found about $120,000 in suspected heroin during a traffic stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sisco, Ryan James & John Patrick Two brothers charged in beating at bar

    Two Johnstown brothers were jailed Wednesday after police said they beat a man so badly he suffered a concussion and may end up blind in one eye.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • path of flood Path of Flood entries due

    Anyone interested in participating in Johnstown Area Heritage Association’s  Path of the Flood Historic Half Marathon and 5K race will need to get in gear before the April 30 registration deadline.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drilling fees should fund education, Democrats say

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 17, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/18/2014

    April 17, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads