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 Congress repealed the ban in 2010 and it was lifted in 2011.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

4 hours ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Captain America: Civil War’ is finally here

10-overlay

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

10 hours ago in Entertainment, Sports

Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ to get Disney treatment

KOBE472419167185

Kobe Bryant's farewell poem to basketball is going to be turned into a short film.

11 hours ago in Entertainment, Weird

Fanciful ‘Boaty McBoatface’ passed over for vessel name

19-overlay-1

Don't expect to see Boaty McBoatface on the high seas.

11 hours ago in Music

Jennifer Lopez goes country with Jennifer Nettles

jenniferlopez843570302709

The Sugarland star recruited the "Booty" singer for a song called "My House," which features on Nettles' new solo album, "Playing With Fire," due out on May 13.

11 hours ago in Music

Justin Timberlake drops new single ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’

16-overlay

The pop superstar hasn't released any music since his 2013 album "The 20/20 Experience," choosing to take some time off to enjoy life with his wife Jessica Biel their son Silas.