Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the refusal by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay adults to be scout leaders "perpetuates the worst kind of stereotypes."
In remarks for delivery to a gay rights organization, Lambda Legal, Holder said with the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, "courageous lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals routinely put their lives on the line" in the armed services.
"If these men and women are fit for military service, then surely they are fit to mentor, to teach, and to serve as role models for the leaders of future generations."
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Holder said the Boy Scouts of America is "an iconic American institution." But he said its policy is "a relic of an age of prejudice and insufficient understanding."
Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates, who helped oversee the demise of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" when he was secretary of defense, told the Scouts' annual meeting last month that while he personally favors a change, now is not the time to pursue it.
"I would have supported going further, as I did in opening the way for gays to serve in CIA and in the military." But, he said, re-opening the issue just a year after the organization agreed to admit gay children as scouts, "would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a permanent split in this movement."
Gates, who began a two-year term as Scouting's president in May, said he wants to devote his attention to local recruiting and fundraising.
WILL OLIVER / EPA file
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
First published June 10 2014, 2:04 PM
Pete Williams is an NBC News correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He has been covering the Justice Department and the U.S. Supreme Court since March 1993. Williams was also a key reporter on the Microsoft anti-trust trial and Judge Jackson's decision.
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Prior to joining NBC, Williams served as a press official on Capitol Hill for many years. In 1986 he joined the Washington, D.C. staff of then Congressman Dick Cheney as press secretary and a legislative assistant. In 1989, when Cheney was named Assistant Secretary of Defense, Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. While in that position, Williams was named Government Communicator of the Year in 1991 by the National Association of Government Communicators.
A native of Casper, Wyo. and a 1974 graduate of Stanford University, Williams was a reporter and news director at KTWO-TV and Radio in Casper from 1974 to 1985. Working with the Radio-Television News Directors Association, for which he served as a member of its board of directors, he successfully lobbied the Wyoming Supreme Court to permit broadcast coverage of its proceedings and twice sued Wyoming judges over pre-trial exclusion of reporters from the courtroom. For these efforts, he received a First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.