More than two years after playing an influential role in the Obama administration's repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is taking on another role that may present its share of questions on gay rights.
The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that Gates has been named president-elect of the organization. According to the Boy Scouts press release, Gates' appointment must be approved by voting members of the organization's National Council, and if the vote is successful, his term will last for two years.
Gates, who stands as a distinguished Eagle Scout and previously served as head of the National Eagle Scout Association, said he was honored to have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
"There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America," Gates said in a statement. "As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today—an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today's youth."
Gates served as U.S. Secretary of Defense from Dec. 2006 through July 2011, maintaining the post through segments of both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. That marked the first time in history that a Defense Secretary held their post through the election of a new president.
During the Obama era of his service, Gates led the Defense Department through the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" transition. Congress voted in Dec. 2010 for repeal of the ban on gays openly serving in the military, and by June 2011, Gates made it clear that there would be no opt out for Marines against the government decision.
"The reality is that you don't all agree with each other on your politics, you don't agree with each other on your religion, you don't agree with each other on a lot of things," he added. "But you still serve together. And you work together. And you look out for each other. And that's all that matters."
On a similar front, the Boy Scouts voted back in May to approve a resolution removing any ban on members based on sexual orientation alone. The policy change is slated to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
"The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue," the organization wrote in a statement. "As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.
The change was not welcomed by all with open arms. Among those against the move was Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who said he was "greatly disappointed with this decision."
"The Boy Scouts of America has been built upon the values of faith and family for more than 100 years," Perry said in a statement. "And today’s decision contradicts generations of tradition in the name of political correctness.