Two Senators, "Proud Eagle Scouts," Urge Boy Scouts To Allow Gay Members

"We don't believe anyone should be denied the opportunity to participate in the amazing and important experience that is Scouting," Sens. Jeff Merkley and Sherrod Brown write.

WASHINGTON — As the Boy Scouts of America consider ending the organizational ban on gay scouts and leaders, two senators — both Eagle Scouts — sent a letter to the group's head asking the organization "to adopt inclusive membership and leadership policies that will allow for all Americans to participate in the Boy Scouts."

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon noted the experience and skills they gained through Boy Scouts in the letter, provided to BuzzFeed on Monday evening. The pair told Wayne Brock, the chief scout executive, "We urge you to pursue a path which recognizes that all Americans should be welcomed into the Scouting family, regardless of sexual orientation."

Although both senators have publicly expressed their opposition to the policy in the past, this is the first time either one has approached the Boy Scouts directly urging a change to the policy.

The Scouts' National Executive Board and Committee meetings began Monday, but a decision on the gay ban is not expected until Wednesday.

The senators' letter, dated Feb. 1, comes as President Barack Obama also spoke out in support of the Boy Scouts ending the gay ban on Sunday.

Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality, told BuzzFeed Monday night that his organization had met with both senators' offices to discuss the ban in January.

"As they wrote so eloquently in their letter and as the BSA's honorary president, Mr. Obama, said over the weekend, Scouting should be home to all who will abide its code, live its lessons and are willing to blaze a trail. We hope the BSA will heed the advice two of its most distinguished alumni have to offer," Wahls said of Brown and Merkley's letter.