President Obama and Mitt Romney have found some new common ground - surprisingly - on an issue of gay rights.
Obama today joined Romney in publicly disagreeing with a controversial ban on gay members of the Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest and most well-known youth development groups.
“The president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation,” said White House spokesman Shin Inouye in a statement to the Washington Blade, a LGBT newspaper
It’s the first time Obama, who was named honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America in 2009, has publicly taken a position on the issue. Romney first voiced support for gay scouts back in 1994 - a position that his campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said remains his position today.
“I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, regardless of their sexual orientation,” Romney said in the video from 1994 recently re-surfaced by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. He added at the time that he supports “the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue.”
Last month, the group affirmed its ban on openly gay scouts and leaders after a two-year review of the policy, prompting the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to call on Obama to “reconsider” his honorary post.
White House press secretary Jay Carney today repeated the earlier White House statement that Obama “opposes discrimination in all forms” including the Boy Scouts policy. But he said the president would not step down from his honorary Boy Scouts position – suggesting that Obama, like Romney, choose to rhetorically oppose discrimination on one hand but still embrace an organization that practices it.
Every U.S. president since 1910 has held the honorary BSA post during his term in office, the group says on its website.