At the annual national meeting of the Boy Scouts of America he made the statement, "We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be", also pointing out that if the Boy Scouts wouldn't change on their own then the court would end up forcing them to. "We must all understand," he said, "That this will probably happen sooner rather than later."
My first reaction to Mr. Gates' statement was that he was commiserating with the Boy Scouts that, though of course they all wished for a world without gay people, the gays were here to stay and the Boy Scouts might as well raise the white flag of surrender before they were pummeled by the courts.
But then my husband Tom reminded me that it was in 2010 during his tenure as Secretary of Defense that Robert Gates called for an end to Don't Ask, Don't Tell and ushered in acceptance of gay men and women into the military. Tom, many years a Boy Scout leader, also said that last year when Robert Gates was appointed as president there was speculation among the Boy Scout leadership that he would probably bring the organization's new policy of accepting gay scouts to its logical conclusion of accepting gay leaders, too, given his legacy to the American military.
Tom's observation changed my interpretation of Mr. Gates' words.
Now I wonder if "We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be" was meant as a veiled reprimand to those within the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America who wish they could live in their own world of self-righteous exclusion. On the other hand, doesn't the fact that the Boy Scout chose Robert Gates for their president probably exhibit a desire on the the organization's part for a leader who they knew would take steps to do away with past discrimination against gays?
Score one for equality, zero for bigotry.
Of course the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou Star-bellied Sneeches of the world have already started screaming bloody murder over Robert Gates' declaration of acceptance of gay Scout leaders.
But they, like all disciples of bigotry and inequality since the beginning of time when God created us all, will eventually be dragged kicking and howling into a better world where they and their kind will be forced by public opinion to stifle themselves.
1. "Scout Head Calls for End to Ban on Gay Leades, Erik Eckholm, The New York Times, May 22, 2015.