The policy is at odds with the nation's diminishing acceptance of antigay discrimination.
It is impossible to square the Boy Scouts of America's values of openness, strong moral character and leadership with its announcement this week that reaffirmed a retrograde policy of barring gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from serving as leaders.
Based on the recommendation of a secret 11-member committee, the policy is at odds with the nation's diminishing acceptance of antigay discrimination and is destined to hurt many young people and their families. It compounds the dilemma faced by parents who welcome the community service and outdoor experiences that the Boy Scouts offer but who are repelled by discrimination.
A dozen years ago, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that as a private organization, the Boy Scouts may exclude gay members even though this may conflict with a state's antidiscrimination laws. The Boy Scouts of America is, indeed, a private organization, but there is a public interest in its decisions.
The organization boasts on its website that it has a charter from Congress and that every president since William Howard Taft has served as its honorary chairman. That now puts the government in the untenable position of implicitly endorsing the discriminatory policies of the Boy Scouts.
President Obama, who has shown a real commitment to combating the unfair treatment of gay people, should respond by ending the group's prestigious tie to the White House. His doing so is unlikely, unfortunately.
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, said in a debate with Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1994 that he believes the Boy Scouts should be open to all, "regardless of their sexual orientation." If he still believes that, this would be a good time to say so.