'BATTLESTATIONS!': Call-In War Waged Over Boy Scouts' Ban On Gays
NBCNEWS.COM - "BATTLESTATIONS!" "The phones are ringing off the wall." "Good turn for the day. (takes less than one minute)."
These are the battle cries made by advocates on both sides of the
debate over allowing gays into the Boy Scouts. They are urging their
supporters to call or email the private youth organization as it weighs
lifting its longstanding, controversial ban, with a vote expected next
The new policy, now under discussion, would revise the
national organization's rules to allow local sponsoring organizations to
decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts and leaders. If
approved, the change could be announced as early as next week, after the
Boy Scouts of America's national board holds a regularly scheduled
On the Facebook page for George Takei,
known for his role as Mr. Sulu in Star Trek, he urged those wanting to
end the ban to hit their "BATTLESTATIONS!" and to "Takei Stand." He gave
supporters a step-by-step guide, telling them to call, say they were
for the change, and then to like and share the message. As of Thursday
afternoon, more than 56,000 people had liked his status and 41,000 had
shared it, while another 6,000 left comments.
"Let's FLOOD their lines with thousands of calls. (Believe me, the other side's busy, too...)," he wrote.
indeed, they were. The Family Research Council, which supports
maintaining the ban, noted in an appeal to its supporters on its
website: "The phones are ringing off the wall."
"If you've tried to get through to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA),
you know it's been tough. If you've wanted to express your concern about
the BSA abandoning their longstanding policy of safeguarding Scouts by
restricting openly homosexual Scout leaders from holding leadership
positions, you may have been greeted by an endlessly ringing phone. This
may be one instance in which the Boy Scouts were not prepared," for
what the council said was the response of thousands of Americans opposed
to the change.
It then listed the numbers for each of the BSA's board members and provided a sample phone script for supporters to read. On the council's Facebook page, a similar post had received nearly 3,900 likes and more than 2,800 shares plus 800 comments.
When a reporter called the BSA Wednesday night, a woman who answered the
phone asked, "Are you for or against the proposed policy change?" When
the reporter identified her news organization, the woman said the Scouts
had been taking calls since about 3 p.m. Monday and it had been very
"When we receive calls we are indeed allowing people to provide
feedback, but it's not a poll (and we won't be releasing data about the
feedback)," BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in an email, responding to an
inquiry about the calls and when they began.
On the organization's Facebook page,
people were asked to provide feedback by email or to a phone number
provided. Some who posted there asked about getting a running tally.
by Thursday afternoon, opponents of the ban reported that the BSA was
no longer taking the phone feedback (Smith did not respond to an inquiry
on whether the BSA had stopped). So the secondary tactic was deployed.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:43 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:43:51 GMT
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