Democratic delegates boo
the Boy Scouts of America
Written by Valerie Richardson

LOS ANGELES When Gloria Johnson learned
that a group of Eagle Scouts was about to take the
stage at the Democratic National Convention, she
immediately went into action.
She and other California delegates grabbed
poster board and markers and made signs that read,
"We Support Gay Boy Scouts." As the uniformed
Scouts took part in the opening ceremony, the
delegates, seated in the front of the hall, waved their
signs and booed.
Under normal circumstances, jeering at children is
the sort of behavior that might get a delegate
sanctioned, if not booted from the convention
altogether. But anyone who expected the Democratic
leadership to scold the Boy Scouts of America
bashers is attending the wrong convention.
Support for homosexual rights has become an
integral part of the Democratic orthodoxy, as
unassailable as the party's pro-choice or civil rights
planks. Since the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy
Scouts can ban homosexual leaders, the Democrats
have sided squarely with homosexuals in condemning
the decision.
Indeed, Democratic National Committee
spokesman Rick Hess was careful to avoid criticizing
either the Boy Scouts or the delegates, instead
stressing that the party is staunchly committed to
homosexual rights.
Most Democrats support the work the Boy Scouts
do," said Mr. Hess. "At the same time, we want to see
gays and lesbians treated with respect. Democrats
across the board support equal rights for gays and
lesbians and we want to make sure they're not
discriminated against."
The Boy Scouts, meanwhile, were shocked by the
negative reception. The Los Angeles Council of Boy
Scouts sent a half-dozen Eagle Scouts and an adult
leader to the event at the request of Democratic
organizers, said council spokesman Joey Robinson.
"I think whatever the national policy is, the kids
don't set the policy. When you boo the policy, you're
booing the kids," said Mr. Robinson.
Fortunately, he said, the Staples Center was so
noisy during the Tuesday night ceremony that none of
the boys heard the booing, although the adult leader
Delegates who participated in protesting the Boy
Scouts yesterday said they had nothing against the
boys, but wanted to send a message to the
Democratic Party for inviting the Scouts.
"Of course, we're not against the kids it isn't
about them," said California delegate Craig
Christensen. "But there were groups that could have
been picked that haven't been so blatantly
discriminatory. . . . It was a thoughtless thing to do."
Alex Mallonee, a California delegate who didn't
participate in the demonstration, said he sympathized
with the homosexual delegates.
"I think it was odd that they had the Boy Scouts up
there, given the situation," he said. "It was pretty
This year's convention has almost twice as many
homosexual delegates as the 1996 gathering, thanks
to recruiting efforts by the national party. Mr.
Christensen said there are 212 openly homosexual
delegates at this year's convention, up from 125 four
years ago.
Delegates give credit to the DNC, which
instructed state parties to work on making their
delegations reflect their states' minority composition.
For many states, that meant setting "targets," which
are different from quotas, Democrats insisted.
When states submit their delegation plans, the
DNC asks them to have their delegations look as
much like their voters as possible," said Mr. Hess.
"This is wholly different from quotas this is Colin
Powell-type recruitment."
In California, that meant setting "targets" of 5
percent homosexual men and 5 percent homosexual
women. The California delegation ended up with 34
openly homosexual delegates, the largest
concentration of any state.
Delegate Jeri Dilno said the state party would
have appointed homosexual delegates if the
caucuses fell short of those goals. "A friend of mine
was appointed that way the last time [in 1996]," she
The Georgia delegation also set a goal of 5
percent and met it by electing five openly homosexual
delegates out of 105, said delegate Annette Hatton.
Wisconsin delegate Jane Fee, 73, who was born
a man but has been taking female hormones and
dressing like a woman for the past dozen years, said
he "came as part of the female quota." But since he
never had a sex-change operation, he acknowledged
he fulfills the Democratic sex quotas all by himself.
"Actually, the diversity that we show in the
Democratic Party, whether it's by quota or not,
indicates that we really are interested in having all of
America represented by the party," said Mr. Fee, a
father and grandfather who used to be known as
As for the Boy Scouts, Miss Hatton added that she
never heard any booing during the ceremony,
although other delegates and news accounts reported
Michael Perez, chairman of the National Stonewall
Democratic Federation, called the protesters "very
supportive of the kids."
"We're 100 percent behind the kids," said Mr.
Perez. "We don't agree with what their establishment
came up with. There are gay Boy Scouts out there,
and we want them to know we support them."
Rep. Jennifer Dunn, Washington Republican,
didn't see it that way. "The Boy Scouts are revered by
most people," she said. "It's the kind of thing that
reflects badly on the Democratic Party."

Bill Sammon contributed to this report.