Hardball | January 30, 2013
>>> we're back. it could soon be the beginning of a new era for the boy scouts of america . the group's board will decide next week whether to allow gay scouts and scout leaders among their ranks reversing their long-held ban. my guest tonight james dale took on the scouts in a case that went to the supreme court which in 2000 decided the boy scouts were allowed to refuse gays including dale himself. also with me tonight nbc's -- who broke this story earlier this week. welcome to both of you. pete , what's the latest? is this is a done deal?
>> seems like it. people we talk to that both support and oppose this move who have been briefed by the scouts and scouting insiders all tell us they strongly expect it will pass when the board meets in texas next week to talk about this. what it would do, michael, is remove the long-standing national membership requirements. it could leave it up to individual organizations to decide for themselves. some may well say we want to admit them. some may say they don't. and the scouting organization says parents and sponsored could decide for themselves which one they want to send their children to. they say, and they strongly expect it will pass.
>> james dale , is that enough for you?
>> thank you. it's a great first step, but i don't think they should kick the can down the road. you can't have children in one group thinking that discrimination is acceptable and scouts in a neighboring group to think it's unacceptable. i think that nondiscrimination needs to be top down as well.
>> what i didn't realize until reading up on this subject over the last couple days after pete broke the story is the president of lds and catholic church within scouting. and it would seem to me, mr. dale, neither of those are going in a direction you would like.
>> i think it's interesting whether it's those two churches or inauguration last week, america has evolved. this isn't the america from 23 years
>>> as maybe they were afraid in the past. we've really come pretty far in the past 12 years.
>> let me put up the scout oath . you certainly know it, i'm sure.
>> pete william, when i tell my sons, that, you know, they're going out of the house and i want them to be on the straight and narrow . or if i were to refer to pete williams as a straight arrow, i'm not referencing sexuality at all. one looks at the scout oath and wonders how did this become a conversation?
>> well, the scouts will tell you, and they made the same claim in the u.s. supreme court . it's the morally that they're focusing on. and by the way, what the supreme court said in mr. dale's case, scouts have a first amendment right of who they will allow to speak for them. others say it's a first amendment right of association. this isn't a legal issue. there are very prom neprominent members that say it's come from the ranks and chapters as well.
>> i certainly believe that this has come from the ranks and file. but the most interesting, they went to the united states supreme court for a first amendment shield from new jersey's law against discrimination in 1999 . now they're saying that they don't stand for anti-gay discrimination and gay is not immoral. i wonder if that calls the whole legal issue into question again? i think the best thing for the boy scot scouts to do is to just do it once and do it the right way.
>> james , i had a fella call my radio program yesterday, a guy who identified himself as being gay and says he has two sons in scouting, which raised an interesting question of what applicability does this have to parents, hopefully none. but it brought out the issue of at 8 years old, do they really know their direction? how could this possibly be enforced if it has a sexual con notation?
>> i think the enforcement that's taking place is self destructive. they're teaching young kids, whether they're gay or not that gay is immoral and that it's harmful.
>> hey, pete williams , correct me if i'm wrong, but wasn't this a subject of agreement? weren't president obama and governor romney both on the same page that scouting should be open to all?
>> yes, they both were. they both said so during the campaign that they thought that scouting should change the view. and i think, michael, what i've seen in the last couple of days in response to the reports about what the scouts are going to do is, you know, a feeling all over the map. some who feel as james does that this doesn't go far enough. some who welcome it, though. there are many chapters, even some associated with churches who've been saying this welcome this new policy. they probably will admit gay members. and then there are other organizations that you referred to earlier who probably won't.
>> james dare, we ought to find out next week. just ten seconds left.
>> i hope that they'll do the right thing and just do it once so they can move beyond sexual orientation and get back to scouting.
>> thank you for that. thank you pete williams . when we return, let me finish with the most powerful republican in the u.s. senate who could be taken down in his own party. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. omnipotent