Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – and newly minted 2016 GOP presidential candidate – said Tuesday that he disagreed with the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow gays to serve as troop leaders.
Walker, a former Eagle Scout who talked about his experience with the group in his launch speech Monday, told the Independent Journal Review that the change placed young boys at risk.
“I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values,” he told the online outlet.
The Boy Scouts of America decided in 2013 to allow openly gay boys to join its ranks, and on Friday the group’s leadership voted to permit gay adults could serve alongside straight ones as troop leaders.
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading gay-rights organizations, blasted Walker’s comments as “offensive.”
“His comments imply that we represent a threat to the safety and well-being of young people,” said Chad Griffin, the group’s leader in a statement. “For a sitting governor and presidential candidate to make such a disgraceful claim is unconscionable.”
Walker has looked to capture enthusiasm from social conservatives, who play an outsized role in the Iowa Republican caucuses that he has deemed a priority. After the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Walker called for a constitutional amendment to let individual states define marriage.
Walker’s own sons, however, told CNN this weekend that they openly support the right of gays and lesbians to wed.