NEW YORK (CBSDC/AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney believes the Boy Scouts should include gay people within the organization.
Back in 1994, during a political debate in Massachusetts, Romney said, “I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.”
A Romney spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in an email that this remains Romney’s position today. Romney previously served on the national executive board for the Boy Scouts.
Despite supporting the inclusion of gay people in the Boy Scouts, the presidential hopeful does not back same-sex marriage.
President Barack Obama, on the other hand, has made no public statement thus far about the Scouts’ policy — a notable void given that he is a staunch supporter of gay rights and also, like all presidents of the past 100 years, is the Boy Scouts’ honorary president.
The American Civil Liberties Union, in its online newsletter, suggested that Obama re-evaluate White House ties to the Boy Scouts. The White House press office declined comment on the matter, and there has been little pressure on Obama from other quarters.
“People are reluctant to force him to take sides,” said Richard Socarides, a former Clinton White House adviser on gay rights. “Everybody knows what side he’s on anyway.”
Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts, said Obama already had burnished his gay-rights credentials by supporting same-sex marriage and there were “bigger fish to fry” at this juncture.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)