The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser traces the bad blood between presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Perry to a 2002 dispute over the Boy Scout’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games:
Perry, who proudly wears an Eagle Scout pin on his lapel, has harshly criticized Romney for a decision made while he ran the Olympics not to allow Boy Scouts to be official volunteers during the games.
“Several years have gone by, and neither Mitt Romney nor anyone else who served as an official of the 2002 Winter Olympics has given a clear and logical explanation of why the door to volunteerism was shut on a willing ‘army’ of Boy Scout volunteers,’’ Perry wrote in his 2008 book, “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts are Worth Fighting For.’’
The Texas governor suggests that Romney made the decision based on political opportunism, citing the controversial issue at the time of Boy Scouts not allowing gay troop masters. Romney said then that Boy Scouts couldn’t volunteer because most weren’t 18 years old, the mandatory minimum age the Olympics set for volunteers.
“Whether pressure from gay rights groups caused Olympic organizers to resist volunteer assistance from the scouts, we know that Romney, as a political candidate in the politically liberals [sic] state of Massachusetts, has parted ways with the scouts on its policies over the involvement of gay individuals in scout activities,’’ Perry wrote in his 2008 book On My Honor. “He once said during a debate with Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994, ‘I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.’ ’’ However, Romney prefaced his statement with, “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue.”
The Boy Scouts prohibit atheists, agnostics, and “avowed” homosexual people from leadership roles. In 2004, the organization adopted the following policy statement: “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting’s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.”