LOUISVILLE, KY — More than 2,000 people have joined a new campaign on Change.org urging the Kentucky-based Lincoln Heritage Boy Scouts Council to reinstate former Assistant Scoutmaster Greg Bourke and reject the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy.
Greg Bourke, who has been partnered for 30 years and has two children involved in scouting, launched his campaign on Change.org after he was removed from his role as Assistant Scoutmaster by the Lincoln Heritage Boy Scout Council because he is gay.
"For the past five years, I've dedicated my time and energy to the Boy Scouts of America and to my community — and I've loved every minute of it," said Greg Bourke, who launched the campaign on Change.org . "In return, the Boy Scouts of America has decided to fire me for being honest about who I am and for loving my partner of 30 years."
"It's not fair to my family, it's not fair to my community, and it's not fair to the youth I've been so honored to work with," added Bourke.
Bourke was a widely beloved and respected Boy Scouts leader and role model. Since his removal, he's received overwhelming support from Scouts, Scout leaders, Scout parents, and faith leaders. Bourke remains an active leader in his daughter's local Girl Scouts troop, as many service organizations — including the Girls Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the 4H Club — all welcome gay youth and leaders.
"I launched my petition with the hope of turning this hurtful situation into something positive. I'm trying to turn the outrage into action," said Bourke. "If enough of us speak out, I know the Lincoln Heritage Council will join the growing list of councils that have decided to reject the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policy."
Bourke's petition campaign is one of dozens targeting local Boy Scouts councils, urging communities to reject the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy. The movement is being led by Scouts for Equality, an organization started this year to encourage Boy Scouts of America to change its policy.
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and son of two gay moms whose 2011 video in support of marriage equality became a viral sensation, launched Scouts for Equality after delivering nearly 300,000 petition signatures to the Boy Scouts of America on behalf of Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom and den leader from Ohio who was removed from her 7-year-old's Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Together, Wahls and Tyrrell have led Change.org petition campaigns attracting more than 400,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts' ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
Last month, President Obama, who serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America, publicly opposed the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy, and joined presidential candidate Mitt Romney in supporting gay Americans participating in the Boy Scouts.
Live signature totals from Greg Bourke's campaign:
List of petitions targeting local Boy Scout councils:
Courier-Journal coverage of Bourke's story:
For more information on Change.org, please visit:
Change.org is the world's fastest-growing platform for social change growing by nearly two million new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.
For more information on Scouts for Equality, please visit:
Since 1991, the Boy Scouts of America has barred openly gay individuals from participating in its program at any level. Scouts for Equality will lead a respectful, honest dialogue with current and former Scouts and Scout Leaders about ending this outdated policy. By embodying the values of the Scout Oath and Law, we believe we can restore the social relevancy of one of this country's great cultural institutions: the Boy Scouts of America.