It’s Boy Scouts v. church over gay scoutmaster

A United Methodist Church in Seattle can no longer host Boy Scout Troop 98, NBC News reports. The troop is led by a gay man.

The action appears to open a new battle front over the Boy Scouts’ policy of not allowing gay men to be involved. Churches often sponsor Boy Scout troops and provide financial support as well as a physical location. The church in Washington has a no-discrimination policy.

“Breaking us up like this seems to go against everything the Boy Scouts is about,” Rev. Monica Corsaro told NBC News. “It seems to me that when you are in a dispute with a partner you try to work it out with the partner. It’s very clear we’re not viewed as an equal partner.”

The Boy Scouts has grappled with its controversial membership policy barring gays in recent years. In an historic ballot last May, its 1,400-member National Council voted to allow gay youth — but not adults — to join Scouting starting this Jan. 1.

Troop 98 got its start not long after that contentious ballot. Clergy in McGrath’s Seattle neighborhood wanted to start a youth program because there were few in the area, Corsaro said. The clergy reached out to (Geoff) McGrath, a member of the Methodist Church, to ask whether he could lead a Boy Scout unit.

McGrath, a married Eagle Scout, hesitated because he worried that his sexual orientation would sink the effort. He said he didn’t hide his sexual orientation from Scouting leaders, but Seattle’s top BSA official told NBC News that she never knew he was gay.

McGrath is believed to be the first gay adult to be booted from the Boy Scouts of America since last May’s vote. He said Sunday that he was “shocked” by the BSA decision.

“It’s just so astounding to me that they would take this tiny, small issue and dissolve two units over it without having a proper conversation with the pastor,” he told NBC News by phone.