Officials at a church in Washington state have vowed to stand behind a member who was recently banned from serving as the leader of a local Boy Scout troop because he is openly gay.
Rev. Monica Corsaro of the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church said Geoffrey McGrath will continue to serve as the leader of the church's scouting program despite the Boy Scouts of America's decision to revoke his membership earlier this month, according to the United Methodist News Service.
"If I take responsibility for who is hired, then I also take responsibility for who is fired," Corsaro is quoted as saying. "Our church is thriving and happy, and we support Geoffrey."
Meanwhile, McGrath penned an impassioned Op-Ed for The Seattle Times, saying that his identity as a gay man "has been known to my neighbors, my church congregation and my Facebook friends," and added that it was also "known by the scouting professionals who accepted the application to form a troop."
"For all of the respect I have for the local Scouts organization, the Chief Seattle Council, and the national Boy Scouts of America, the Scouts are obviously behind the times on this issue of equality," he wrote. "I expect them to exercise judgment and leadership -- two virtues central to being a Scout -- to finish what was started with the vote last May, when the organization stopped discriminating against gay youths. Working together, we will get this done."
An attorney for McGrath and Rev. Corsaro told local news station King5 that the church was still exploring "legal options" for the future.
"We want to work with the Boy Scouts toward a resolution that works for the kids of the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church," Peter Mullenix said. "With that said, it may be time for the courts to revisit the question of whether a congressionally chartered, non-sectarian corporation is allowed to violate the states’ discrimination statutes."
The Boy Scouts of America voted last May to begin allowing openly gay scouts for the first time as of Jan. 1, 2014, but not to allow openly gay troop leaders. At the time of McGrath's initial dismissal, a Boy Scouts of America spokesperson reportedly stated that the organization was not aware of the scout leader's sexuality until they were contacted for the purposes of a story about McGrath.