August 13th, 2012
11:57 AM ET

Protesting Scouts renounce Eagle awards

Earning the right to be called an Eagle Scout ranks among life's most cherished achievements for countless men. But now, more than 100 Eagles have renounced their precious red, white and blue medals to protest the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay and lesbian members.

"With sadness for the loss of the good things - I respectfully return my badge and ask that the BSA consider the opinions of the more than 10,000 other Eagle Scouts who have now done the same," wrote Ray Myers on a Tumblr site called Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges.

Protesters have posted letters and photos of their Eagle badges and medals that they've sent to Robert Mazzuca, chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America.

The Boy Scout national headquarters said it doesn't have an exact count of medals returned recently. "But we have received a few," wrote BSA spokesman Deron Smith in an e-mail to CNN. "Although we are disappointed to learn of anyone who feels compelled to return his Eagle rank, we respect their right to express an opinion. While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy."

Myers' figure of 10,000 Eagle Scouts who've sent letters of protest can't be confirmed, but Smith said the number is closer to that reported by the site - 105 as of Friday.

Like many others who posted on the Tumblr site, David Peck, 33, of Vernon Hills, Illinois, described his decision to renounce his Eagle honor as "heartbreaking."

"Children need leaders to look up to and depriving these kids of potentially great ones because of the adult’s sexual orientation is wrong," Peck wrote.

Related story: Obama disagrees with BSA gay ban 

It's not easy to become an Eagle Scout. Only 5% of all Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank last year, according to the group's website. To make it to Eagle, Scouts must earn 21 merit badges and serve in a troop leadership role as well as plan and complete a community service project. Traditionally, Scouting's highest rank has benefited college applicants and job seekers as a sign of a hard-working, goal-oriented character.

After becoming an Eagle Scout, Daniel Kane said he felt guilty for remaining with Scouting because he deeply disagreed with its policy on gays and lesbians.

"I reminded myself that my scoutmaster, in an incredibly courageous moment, had announced that he would never enforce the ban," Kane wrote in an e-mail to the Boys Scouts' National Executive Board. "I convinced myself that I had earned the rank, deserved it, and, since I was straight, was not breaking any rules by accepting it."

Kane said in the e-mail that now he's grown older, "I have not been able to conveniently ignore my conscience." He then wrote that he was renouncing "all affiliation" with the Boy Scouts of America.

One of the Tumblr posters, Ben Bedford of Springfield, Illinois, wrote that the policy conflicts with his idea of what it means to be a "sensitive member of the human race." Forfeiting his cherished award, Bedford wrote, "shall be my final act as an Eagle Scout."

The protest is the latest sign of unrest in the century-old organization after its announcement in July that it would not change its policy of "not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals."

The organization said its leadership had reached that decision after a nearly two-year evaluation and would take no further action. A resolution that had sought to change the policy asked to let local Scout units determine their own standards. "Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting," a statement said.

Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, responded to the ban, saying, "How long will the Boy Scouts continue to bully young gay Americans into hiding who they are and hurt children of gay parents by denying their parents an opportunity to participate in their children's lives?"

Opinion: Scouts should end its ban on gay members

Eagle recipient Britton Lense of Walworth, New York, posted on the Tumblr site that the ban violates rules outlined in the Scouting Handbook, which he said calls on Scouts to "respect and defend the rights of all people."

He wrote that he hoped the Boy Scouts "will reverse their decision and in doing so return the badges to those who are standing up for what they believe in."

Related story: Scouts feel mom's wrath

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Protest
soundoff (1,089 Responses)
  1. Concerned Parent

    Gays should not be a part of a children’s group. I would not want my son to be around openly gay boys or men for that matter it is gross and disgusting. This world is so messed up to protest over this and think that it’s ok for your child to be around in an all boys setting with other openly gay boys.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Well Said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnjon

      and just what do you find "gross and disgusting"? I'm sorry to tell you that YOU are the one that is "messed up" with your filthy assumptions. I'd hate to have you as a parent who obviously has no idea what compassion or discrimination is about. you need to look in the mirror and realize the harm you are doing to your family and community. I hope God forgives you.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Newsflash partner... you seem to still somehow equate "gay" to pedophile... they are not one in the same. In fact, most pedophiles that molest boys openly define themselves as straight... food for thought I guess.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brixzz

      For many many centuries, the majority of the 'civilized" world believed the exact same thing about women, They are nothing more than baby makers that do not need to be educated , sophisticated or even recognized and citizens. Not talking about ancient times... only around a hundred years ago... In the United States!!

      August 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Morgan

    Hopefully this will inspire more parents to enroll their boys in scouting since they now know the BSA is attempting to create a safe environment for boys to grow and develop into men who can lead this country with good moral convictions.

    check out how many influential men get a start by working hard to be an eagle scout. you will be amazed.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    Wasn't this article on CNN two weeks ago, or did I read it in a different publication?

    August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bp

    Good for these boys. Reject bigotry.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • cobra

      You one of the kind that likes little boys and get your rocks just thinking about?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      Cobra, are you one of those that RESPECTS bigotry?

      August 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sailor101

    Eagle Scouts return badges...oh my what has the world come to? YAWN!!! You would think they were talking about the Congressional Medal of Honor, wait they did go camping to earn those badges, they may even have ruffed it by eating freeze dried food for one night! Get real and get over yourselves, nobody could care less if you are an Eagle Scout, put it on your resume and prepair to be laughed at!

    August 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Ignorance must be your favorite subject.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Funny, where ever I've mentioned my eagle scout status I usually get a handshake and a comment that more people should be like me. I also believe it helped me land my job. I suppose getting an automatic promotion in the military isn't worth anything either to you right?

      August 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. the dude

    About 100 return their medals.

    Over 2 million elect to keep theirs.

    Where's the news CNN ???

    August 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Tens of millions of white people.

      Only several hundred participated at the beginning of the civil rights era.

      Where's the news, CNN?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Eagle72

    When an organization publishes it's criteria for members and you JOIN willingly, you accept those criteria. If you are asked to leave the group when it is found you do not meet the criteria it is not harrassment or prejudice or bigotry or bullying. If one disagrees with the current policy then do not join!

    August 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |

    Man, if I was GAY, I would be very careful when out in public. To destroy an organization like the Boy Scouts of America in such a pathetic manner using this agenda, you made thousands of enemies today. Be looking over your shoulder and BEWARE of your surroundings. Justice has a way of making things right.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Wow, you advocate lynchings against gays? If I knew you personally, I would call the cops.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Great Republic of Texas

      WOW, another moron liberial running their lying mouth. He said nothing about lynching you uneducated fool, he is saying GAYS probably are not the most loved peiople right now messing with the Boy Scouts. I just love American like you. Would you please leave this great country you POS????

      August 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      Once again I say to you, Repubic/Texas: YEEHAW!!!

      August 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Matthew

    keeping my Eagle Scout medal...doing this proves nothing. The ones that fell victim to "oh, its not okay if you are not politically correct today" are the ones turning theirs in. Don't like the views leave. Simple

    August 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Adrian

    THE HYPOCRISY CONTINUES! If you don't support us, you're preaching hate? What a laughable, terrible thing. Guess I'll have to voice my support of BSA like I did for Chick-Fil-A. Are you all really that naive? Just because I don't support the gay agenda has NOTHING to do with your right to be gay. This isn't discrimination, it's an opinion.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. vtguy

    Nasty gays keep pushing their immoral life styles on normal people... be careful.... there will be a backlash.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      There was this little organization in the South that advocated a backlash against blacks.

      They are now classified as a fringe group by the NSA/FBI and are monitored heavily.

      Look into the future. It doesn't look bright for you.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. DAVID in Texas

    The point is "treat all (men and women) equal". I thought only Texas violated every rule (good-old boys) they wrote, now we have hipocrites in the BS. Darn Texans are distroying this entire country.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Morgan

    Where would America be without THESE eagle scouts?

    Henry Aaron – Baseball player, home run king – the greatest positive influence was scouting
    Gary L. Ackerman – U.S. Representative from NY
    Bill Alexander – U.S. Representative from Arkansas
    Lamar Alexander – Lawyer, Governor of Tennessee, Secretary of Education,
    Neil Armstrong – astronaut, first man on moon, from Wapakoneta, OH
    Willie Banks – Olympic & world record holding track star
    Albert Belle – baseball player
    Charles E. Bennett – U.S. Representative from Florida
    William Bennett – Secretary of Education
    Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. – Treasury Secretary & U.S. Representative from Texas
    Bill Bradley – Pro basketball star and U.S. Senator from NJ
    James Brady – Press Secretary to President Reagan
    Stephen Breyer – US Supreme Court Justice
    Rear Admiral Jay M. Cohen, USN – Undersecretary of Homeland Security
    John W. Creighton, Jr. – President & CEO of Weyerhaeuser Company
    William E. Dannemeyer – U.S. Representative from Cal.
    William Devries – M.D., transplanted first artificial heart
    Michael Dukakis – Governor of Massachusetts, presidential candidate
    LTC Aquilla James Dyess – WWII Marine, Medal of Honor recipient
    Arthur Eldred – First Eagle Scout
    Daniel J. Evans – Senator and Governor of Washington
    David Farabee – Texas State Representative
    Robert Edward Femoyer – WWII Army Air Force Navigator, Medal of Honor recipient
    Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey – WWII Submarine Commander, Medal of Honor recipient
    Thomas Foley – Speaker of the House and U.S. Representative from Washington
    Gerald Ford – U.S. President (1st Eagle to be President)
    Steven Fossett – Flew solo nonstop around the world in a hot air balloon and in an ultralight
    airplane, won the Chicago to Mackinaw boat races, competed in the Iditarod dog race, and
    competed in several iron man triathlons, and among other things lived the Scouting mottos
    both Cub and Boy Scout by doing his best and being prepared
    Murphy J. (Mike) Foster – Governor of Louisiana
    Robert M. Gates – Director of Central Intelligence (CIA) and Secretary. of Defense
    Richard A. Gephardt – U.S. Representative from Missouri, Minority Leader
    Steve Holcomb – Olympic Gold Medal winner -4 man Bobsled
    Admiral Jay Johnson, USN – Chief of Naval Operations
    Michael Kahn – stage director, Oscar winning film editor
    William Henry Keeler – Roman Catholic Cardinal and Archbishop of Baltimore
    Larry Kellner, CEO – Continental Airlines
    Dr. Alfred Kinsey – insect biologist, human behavior researcher
    John Koncak – basketball player
    Sheldon Leonard – actor, director, producer, 3 time Emmy award winner

    Steven W. Lindsey – Astronaut – He was the pilot for STS-95 when John Glenn returned to space as a Senator. He made Eagle in Troop 161 in Temple City, California.
    Gary Locke, Governor of the State of Washington, the first Chinese-American Governor in the contiguous United States, and selected as a Distinguished Eagle Scout by NESA
    James Lovell – Navy pilot and astronaut, President of National Eagle Scout Association. Flew on Gemini 7, 12 & Apollo 8, 13 At one time had seen more sunrises than any other human being
    Richard Lugar – Senator from Indiana (presidential candidate 1996)
    J. Willard Marriott, Jr. – President, Marriott Corp.
    CDR William McCool, USN – Astronaut, Pilot of U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia
    W. Walter Menninger – Physician, civil servant
    Jim Mora – NFL football coach
    Oswald "Ozzie" Nelson – actor
    Sam Nunn – U.S. Senator from Georgia
    Ellison Onizuka – Astronaut aboard the U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger
    Steve Oswald – Astronaut, Navy Rear Admiral
    Mitchell Paige – walked 200 miles to enlist in Marines on his 18th birthday in 1936, retired as a Colonel, Medal of Honor. Presented his Eagle award in 2003 after it was verified that he'd not received it in 1936 because he'd joined the Marines.
    H. Ross Perot – Self-made billionaire and presidential candidate
    Rick Perry – Governor, State of Texas
    J. J. Pickle – U.S. Representative from Texas, proudly displayed his Eagle plaque inside his office Samuel R. Pierce – Former Sec. Housing & Urban Development
    Frederick Reines – Nobel Prize winner in Physics
    Gary Rogers – Chairman and CEO of Dreyer's Ice Cream
    Jim Rogers – CEO of Kampgrounds of America (KOA)
    Mike Rowe – Star of "Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe" on the Discovery Channel
    Donald Rumsfeld – Secretary of Defense
    Harrison Salisbury – Pulitzer Prize winning author
    James Sanderson – Vice Admiral, US Navy (Ret), Deputy Chief US Atlantic Fleet
    Dr. Benjamin Lewis Salomon – WWII Army front line surgeon & Medal of Honor recipient
    Jeff Sessions – Senator from Alabama
    William Sessions – FBI director
    Sam Skinner – Secretary of Energy during the Bush administration and now CEO of Commonwealth Edison
    Steven Spielberg – Movie producer, from Scottsdale, AZ, made a movie of his troop while getting Photography MB. Helped to design requirements for the cinematography MB.
    Wallace Stegner – Writer and college professor, won Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for "Angle of Repose"
    Percy Sutton – Attorney, Chairman of the Board of City Broadcasting Corp.
    John Tesh – TV celebrity and pianist
    Meldrim Thomson, Jr. – 3 term governor of New Hampshire
    Leo K. Thorsness – Vietnam War Air Force Colonel, POW, & Medal of Honor recipient
    Sam Walton – Founder, Wal-Mart
    Togo West – Secretary of the Army and Secretary of Veterans Affairs
    Edward O. Wilson – Pellegrino University Professor and curator of entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
    Jay Zeamer Jr. – WWII Army Air Force pilot & Medal of Honor recipient
    Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. – Admiral, Chief of Naval Operations

    August 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Now, now, now Morgan. Don't confuse the libs lest heads explode! 🙂


      August 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Morgan

      If I had been able to earn an Eagle scout award they would have to rip it from my fingers while I was kicking and screaming.

      Unfortunately at about age 14 I decided I would rather goof off with friends then be an eagle scout. Maybe that's why I ended up spending thirty five years in a factory instead of being governor of some state.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • moveon

      Where would we be without this long list of eagle scouts????? Exactly where we are now but with a different list of non-eagle scouts in the same positions. I know an eagle scout, he serves hot dogs as a full time job at a local hot dog stand. You'd have a longer list of nobody's with the same honor.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • XxMacleodxX

      and you can ask the exact opposite question...Where would those people be without being Eagle Scouts???? I could care less about the issue they are having but you only look at the side of the debate you agree with.....

      August 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Huh

      Thats a short list. And if you seriously think becoming an Eagle Scout was the reason for their success then you need your head examined.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. paul

    why are we surprised when a privately run organization wants to do things their own way? Is it discrimination for a Muslim group to exclude Jews who want to be involved or in leadership? This is quasi-news...not news.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      It recieves public financing through free land use.

      That's why there's an issue.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • citph

      Everything CNN posts is extreme left quasi-news-propaganda. No surprise that freedom of anything only applies to the "tolerant" liberal. What a joke.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jim Jones

    Right on Boy Scouts. Stay the course.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
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