Dozens of lawmakers sign support for ousted gay scoutmaster

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by ALISON MORROW / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @AlisonMorrowTV

KING5.com

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 10:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 16 at 11:00 PM

King County, Washington state, and federal legislators have released three new letters containing nearly a dozen new signatures in support of ousted gay Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath.

39 Washington state legislators penned their signatures in a letter of support to McGrath's Troop 98 sponsor church, Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, writing that they're "deeply troubled" as "discrimination against gay people is unacceptable."

Last month, Boy Scouts of America revoked McGrath's membership for being openly gay. RBUMC argues the decision violates their religious freedom, and so Rev. Monica Corsaro continues to welcome him as scoutmaster for regular meetings.

"We are gravely disheartened" write four Washington members of the US Congress, signing together from the capitol. They express concern that openly gay scouts are now allowed, but openly gay scoutmasters are not.

McGrath has received phone calls from kids, confused about their status, due to what many call a contradiction in policy.

Perhaps the most personal of the letters is the lengthiest and has just one signature. It's from King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove and addressed to BSA Chief Seattle Council President Rob McKenna.

Upthegrove writes that he served as a scoutmaster 15 years ago, and calls it one of his most difficult and yet rewarding challenges. He stepped down after one year because he began living as an openly gay man.

"Sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to do a good job," Upthegrove writes. Scouting taught him to give back and yet the irony he writes, "I am not permitted to give back to the organization which instilled in me this duty to community."

The attorney now representing both McGrath and RBUMC, Peter Mullenix, told KING 5 that initial conversations with BSA to return McGrath's membership have gained little ground.

His firm, Friedman Rubin, also represents Mark Zmuda, the Eastside Catholic vice principal terminated last year for marrying his husband.

"I did have a cordial conversation with the Boy Scouts' General Counsel. He told me that the BSA national organization would revoke the charter that the local organization, the Chief Seattle Council, granted only a few months ago to the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, unless Rev. Corsaro removed Geoff from the scouting unit," Mullenix said. "The BSA General Counsel also told me that BSA would not hear any appeal by Geoff or the Church of its decision that Geoff is unqualified to lead a Scouting troop."

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