News

Robert Gates, ex-Secretary of Defense, to lead Boy Scouts

Robert Gates, ex-Secretary of Defense, to lead Boy Scouts

LATEST BOY SCOUT LEADER: Retiring U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates inspects a military honor guard during his farewell ceremony at the Pentagon near Washington, June 30, 2011. Photo: Reuters

By Lisa Maria Garza

(Reuters) – The Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday chose former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA director Robert Gates as its next president, who will face the task of repairing divisions in the organization from a heated debate over accepting gay scouts.

As Defense Secretary, Gates supported President Barack Obama’s withdrawal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevented gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Congress repealed the ban in 2010 and it was lifted in 2011.

While a Boy Scout, Gates achieved the highest honor of Eagle Scout. He was due to begin his two-year term in May 2014.

Gates will succeed Wayne Perry, who led the scouting organization through the emotionally charged debate in May when the council voted to lift a century-old ban on openly gay scouts.

The ban on gay scouts will officially end on January 1, 2014. A prohibition on openly gay adult leaders remains in place.

More than 60 percent of the group’s National Council, comprising some 1,400 delegates, voted in favor of ending the youth ban, according to the Boy Scouts.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality, said the appointment of Gates was a clear step the organization was on a path to unity.

“It’s a significant and positive development,” Wahls said. “Gates is respected by both sides of the debate on gay youth and parents in the Boy Scouts.”

Gates, 70, served in various roles in the CIA including head of the intelligence agency from 1991 to 1993.

President George W. Bush appointed him defense secretary in 2006 and he was retained by Obama, making him the only defense secretary to be asked to remain in office by a newly elected president, according to the Department of Defense.

He has also served as president of Texas A&M University.

Recent Headlines

in Local

Ban on “Conversion Therapy” Passes Legislature

gay_marriage

The Illinois Senate has approved a ban on therapy designed to "convert'' gay young people to heterosexuals.

in Local

Union Legislation Would Prohibit Strike or Rauner Lockout

afscme

The House has approved a measure that changes government-employee contract negotiations just a month before the deadline for a new contract.

in Local

Mark Hart Named Interim Springfield Fire Chief

springfield fire dept

Springfield has an interim fire chief.

in Local

Hastert Resigns from Wheaton College Board

FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2007, file photo, Rep. J. Dennis Hastert, front, R-Ill., announces that he will not seek reelection for a 12th term as he stands on the steps of the old Kendall County courthouse with, from left, his son Josh; wife Jean; and daughter-in-law Heidi, grandson Jack, in Yorkville, Ill. A newly unveiled indictment against Hastert released Thursday, May 28, 2015, accuses the Republican of agreeing to pay $3.5 million in hush money to keep a person from the town where he was a longtime schoolteacher silent about "prior misconduct."

The resignation was the latest fallout from a federal indictment accusing Hastert of violating banking laws.

in Local

Rauner: No Special Session if No Agreement Reached by Sunday

rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he will not call lawmakers back into session if there's no agreement on a budget by Sunday.