News (USA)

Seattle mayor, city council back ousted gay Scoutmaster

SEATTLE — Seattle’s mayor and City Council have thrown their support behind a Boys Scouts troop leader in Seattle whose membership in the Boys Scouts of America was revoked last month because he is gay.

Geoff McGrath
Geoff McGrath NBC

BSA said Geoff McGrath, 49, a software engineer and Eagle Scout, violated the group’s leadership qualifications by “deliberately injecting his sexuality into the scouting program” by being openly gay.

In a letter Wednesday to Chief Seattle Council, the BSA’s regional body based in Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray and Council members urged the council to respect and defend Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, the troop’s chartering organization, to retain McGrath as scoutmaster.

“We believe Scouting is a wonderfully successful tradition, but this act of discriminating is deeply disturbing,” they wrote. They added that the BSA’s decision on McGrath undermines its credibility in teaching admirable values.

The letter was sent to the council’s president, Rob McKenna, who is a former state attorney general.

McGrath, meanwhile, continues to lead troop meetings, and the church stands by him, said the Rev. Monica Corsaro with Rainier Beach United Methodist Church.

“It’s business as usual,” she said, adding that neither she nor the church has heard from the BSA or the council on the matter.

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On Wednesday, Corsaro and McGrath said they have hired an attorney, and say they believe the BSA is infringing on their religious freedom, since the organization expects churches to choose their scoutmasters.

Their attorney, Peter Mullenix, hopes dialogue may help them avoid litigation in their efforts to win back McGrath’s membership.

The Boy Scouts began accepting openly gay youth for the first time this year, but has continued to exclude openly gay adults from leadership positions.

McGrath, who is married to his longtime partner, has been leading Seattle Troop 98 since its formation was approved last fall.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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