Local family says Boy Scout vote on gay members is personal

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by Heather Graf / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 11:39 PM

On Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay members could become a thing of the past, and a man from Seattle and his family are going the distance to make sure that happens.

Geoff McGrath and his twin brother started out as cub scouts when they were just seven years old.   By age 18, both boys earned their eagle rank.

"Yeah it was a big day, it was huge," McGrath recalls.

Then, at age 21, Geoff came out as a gay man and everything changed.  He'd been asked to lead a boy scout summer camp that year, but when he told the organization he was gay, camp leaders quickly changed their minds.

McGrath's twin, Dave, stood by his side and wanted to walk away from the organization all together because of how the boy scouts treated his brother.

"And I said to him, hold your horses, you're going to have kids some day and if you have boys, you're going to want to do the same thing with your boys that dad did with us, and be parts of scouts," he said.

Dave reluctantly agreed.  He served as a scoutmaster for almost 20 years.

He went on to have six kids, five boys and a girl.  Most of his boys were active in scouts when they were little.  Now, two of them are gay.

For Dave, it was yet another reason to take a stand against the organization's long-standing policy that bans gay members.

"He said, what is that I can do personally to help make this change happen, and he was really focused on that," said Geoff.

Dave decided he would ride a bicycle 1400 miles from his home in Idaho to the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas.  One of his sons agreed to accompany him on the journey.

Along the way, they shared their message with anyone and everyone who would listen.

Dave wrote a daily blog during the trip and supporters used his Facebook page to pass along their encouragement.

The pair arrived in Texas on Wednesday, just in time for Thursday's historic vote.

Geoff says he's never been more proud of his family.

"It was just so much fun to get together as a family and do this thing, in support of the change," he said.  "If it passes, that's great, but it doesn't mean the work is done.  If it doesn't pass, it points to how much further we have to do, and what we need to do in the weeks and months and years ahead to get the change to come about."

A national organization called Scouts For Equality is organizing rallies across the countries to show support for lifting the ban on gay members.

In Seattle, parents, scouts, and troop leaders will gather at 3 p.m. on Thursday at the Chief Seattle Council offices located at 3120 Rainier Avenue South.

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