My name is Justin Wilson, and I am an Eagle Scout and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. On behalf of Scouts for Equality and the 5,000+ Eagle Scouts we represent, I am urging the U.S. military to postpone automatic rank promotions for Eagle Scouts until all young men -- gay and straight -- can obtain the rank of Eagle Scout and take advantage of these promotions.
I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2001, and because I had obtained the rank of Eagle Scout, I automatically qualified for a rank promotion and higher pay. All branches of the U.S. military offer such promotions to Eagle Scouts, because obtaining the rank of Eagle is an accomplishment that reflects a young man’s dedication to service and discipline while validating his leadership skills in the outdoors -- qualities the military greatly values.
But because the Boy Scouts of America doesn't allow gay youth to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, young men who are gay can't take advantage of this default military promotion. That's unfair and wrong.
While serving in the Marine Corps, I had the honor of serving alongside an incredibly talented and diverse group of individuals. However, given that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was still in place, I did not meet a single service member who was openly gay. This policy forced people to hide an important part of who they were from their brothers in arms -- those whom they trusted above all others and relied on in life-or-death situations.
While the U.S. military has since ended its anti-gay policy, the Boy Scouts of America still holds strong to its hurtful and unjust ban on gay youth and leaders. Why is the U.S. military still automatically promoting Eagle Scouts, when some of the Boy Scouts' best and brightest are being rejected, simply because of their sexual orientation?
Just recently, 18-year-old Boy Scout Ryan Andresen completed all of the requirements to receive his Eagle Award, only to have his application rejected because he's gay. Outstanding young men like Ryan, should they choose to enlist, would automatically be at a disadvantage over straight Scouts because of this policy.
The young men of our nation deserve better than this. Please join me and Scouts for Equality in urging the U.S. military to pause automatic rank promotions and pay increases for Eagle Scouts until ALL Boy Scouts have the ability to qualify for such a promotion.
Yours in Scouting,
Eagle Scout ‘02
Marine Corps Veteran, Operation Iraqi Freedom '06-'07