Petitioners demand reinstatement of gay Scout leader

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A petition drive to reinstate a Louisville, Ky., Boy Scout leader who said he was forced to resign because he is gay has gathered more than 3,000 signatures.

Greg Bourke, who had volunteered with the organization for five years, stepped down recently after the pastor at the church where his troop meets said the facility might lose its Scouting charter if he stayed.

A Boy Scouts policy enacted in 1991 and reaffirmed in July doesn’t allow gays to join. Bourke said after the affirmation, he wrote to Boy Scout executives asking whether he was still welcome was told he didn’t meet “scouting’s membership standards.”

The petition to reinstate him has gotten signatures from state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, TV and radio personality Terry Meiners and several Eagle Scouts.

On the petition, Meiners wrote that Bourke is an “exemplary person, a doting father and a pious, generous man of integrity.”

Barry G. Oxley II of the Boy Scouts’ Lincoln Heritage Council, declined to comment about the petition, other than to say it is “a national BSA policy.”

The petition drive, started by Bourke on Change.org, says “we love the Boy Scouts, but we can’t support this policy,” and notes that the Girl Scouts, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America as well as the 4-H Club “all welcome gay kids as well as adult leaders.”

Change.org says the petition is one of dozens that take issue with local Boy Scout councils.

Bourke said he disclosed his sexual orientation because he wasn’t comfortable hiding it. He and his partner, who have lived together for 30 years, have an adopted son and an adopted daughter.

Bouke said Monday that he remains active in his son’s troop as a parent and is still a leader in his daughter’s troop.

“The support I have gotten so far has been really great.” he said of the petition drive. “That has helped eased the pain a bit.”