Boy Scouts to name Robert Gates the new president

BY Diane Jeanty  May 22, 2014 at 2:49 PM EDT
Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby/Department of Defense

Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby/Department of Defense

Boy Scouts of America is expected to formally confirm former defense secretary Robert Gates as the new president.

The organization had already chosen Gates back in October 2013, but the official voting on the nomination will take place Thursday at their annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.

Gates, honored as an Eagle Scout during his youth, served as the U.S. Defense Secretary from 2006 to 2011 under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He will succeed former Boy Scout president Wayne Perry and is expected to give his first remarks as President at the group’s National Council Recognition Dinner Friday.

Gates oversaw the end of U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that excluded openly gay soldiers during his time as defense secretary in 2010.

He joins Boy Scouts of America at a time the organization’s gay policy has been under scrutiny after it recently removed an openly gay leader Geoff McGrath, 49, for discussing his sexual orientation. Gay youth has been officially allowed in the organization since Jan. 1 while its ban on gay scout leaders is still in effect.

On Wednesday, more than 120,000 people signed a Change.org petition organized by gay activists asking Amazon.com to cut all ties with the group over their policy on banning gay scout leaders from membership.