ATLANTA, May 21 (UPI) -- The Boy Scouts of America's longstanding ban on openly gay adult leaders "cannot be sustained," and may lead the organization to a face-off in court, president Robert Gates said in the opening of the National Annual Meeting in Atlanta on Thursday.
Gates, the former U.S. Defense Secretary and CIA director, said numerous challenges to the scouts' current policy by local charters, including by Greater New York Councils, where an openly gay camp counselor was hired, is forcing a change among the status quo. The organization "cannot ignore" these challenges, he said.
"Nor can we ignore the social, political and juridicial changes taking place in our country – changes taking place at a pace over this past year no one anticipated," he said in prepared remarks. "I remind you of the recent debates we have seen in places like Indiana and Arkansas over discrimination based on sexual orientation, not to mention the impending U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer on gay marriage."
In his speech, Gates told the organization the board has the power to revoke charters of those that ignore the current policy, but "such an action would deny the lifelong benefits of scouting to hundreds of thousands of boys and young men today and vastly more in the future. I will not take that path."
Gates said he will not ask for a policy change immediately, but warned it will likely be down the road.
"I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to presidents when i was director of CIA and secretary of defense," he said. "We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be."