Scouting and Sodomy
August 31, 2000
Department of the Interior is conducting an investigation of its
own ties to the Boy Scouts of America for the purpose of determining
whether the Scouts discriminate against homosexuals in any way that
President Clinton has forbidden by executive order. If so, the Scouts could
lose federal funding and other privileges.
Clinton, who as president is honorary
head of the Boy Scouts, has learned to use executive orders to skirt the
need for legislation. The relevant order in this case was issued a few
months ago; it lists sexual orientation along with race,
religion, sex, et cetera, as protected categories for federally
conducted education and training programs. Five days after Clinton
issued the order, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that New Jersey could not
force the Scouts to accept homosexual scoutmasters.
Its a tangled situation, the
sort of mess that results when civil rights comes to mean not
freedom of association, but the reverse: compulsory association. When we
hear the term civil rights nowadays, we instantly know we are in
for more, not less, government power over our private lives. Civil
rights has become shorthand for state coercion.
Homosexuals are rapidly being added
to the roster of victim categories who may use state power to force
others to accept them. Civil rights, in this baneful sense,
trumps all religious, moral, and other personal reservations. And militant
homosexuals have targeted the Boy Scouts for punishment because the
Scouts code of behavior upholds traditional Christian sexual
Clinton, the first president to court the homosexual lobby, is
ready, willing, and eager to pressure private organizations to accept
homosexuals. Once again we see in action the principle that when the
state moves in, religion must move out. The liberal understanding of
the separation of church and state means that as the area
of politics expands, the area of private freedom religious and
As you might expect, the Boy Scouts
are vigorously resisting the homosexual aggressions. They say that
Clintons order wont affect them much, since they receive
very little in the way of federal benefits.
Lets hope thats true.
Any federal aid to the Scouts would be unconstitutional, as most federal
aid programs are. There is no warrant for making taxpayers subsidize any
But the case is a reminder that you
start sucking the federal udder at your own peril. Once you depend on the
state for income, the state will take advantage of your dependency to
limit your freedom. And it will serve you right. A public charge is in a
weak position to stand on his private freedom.
If the Scouts dont receive
substantial federal aid, Clintons order probably wont affect
them much. They may be banned from conducting their activities on
federal property, but otherwise they will remain free to apply their own
moral code and to ignore the tyrannical claims of civil
Now is the time for Senator Joe
Lieberman to pipe up in defense of the Boy Scouts. He has spoken
eloquently on the need for religious values and moral renewal in American
life, but so far he has been vague as to how this should come about. Here is
a chance for him to vindicate the right of a venerable private organization
to maintain its traditional convictions against secularizing pressures.
Will he do it? If he does, he will anger
the homosexual lobby his party has embraced. He has embraced it too. But
if he cant tell that lobby where to get off, if he cant draw a
firm line in defense of private groups devoted to an ancient moral code,
we are entitled to be skeptical of his pro-religion rhetoric.
Two years ago Lieberman made
national headlines when he reproached Clintons
immoral behavior; but instead of following through by
calling on Clinton to resign the office he had disgraced, he resumed his
role as a loyal party man and voted for acquittal. Though an Orthodox Jew,
he has joined his party in supporting even late-term abortion. In deference
to his running mate Al Gore, he has renounced his positions favoring
school vouchers and Social Security reform.
So will he apply his professed concern
for morality by defending the Boy Scouts? Or will he once more, as a loyal
Democrat, rise above principle?
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