NBA player Jason Collins becomes only openly gay athlete in pro sports

The May 6 edition of Sports Illustrated should make the Boy Scouts of America board meeting a little easier.

NBA center Jason Collins' declaration of his sexual orientation, and what will be his fleeting status as the only openly gay male athlete in pro sports, is a powerful testament that times have changed.

Collins is not flaunting his sexuality, he is making a statement that ought to be irrelevant but for now is a necessary step to get beyond, for himself and others.

No one paid much attention, but this month the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association joined forces with You Can Play, an organization dedicated to confronting homophobia in sports.

NHL owners and players support an inclusive sport that is open and comfortable for all. They made commitments to educate players, fans and the viewing public.

Time for the National Football League to stress inclusion of all players, regardless of sexual orientation.

Collins, a veteran NBA player, became uncomfortable not being forthright about who he is. Others will follow his bold example to discover, more and more, no one cares.

The Boy Scouts need to get the message. The organization mumbled a silly hint it might lift its ban on gay boys but exclude gay adult leaders.

Scouting is about families, and that means straight parents and gay children, and children with gay parents. Feeble attempts to draw lines will destroy efforts to nurture membership, involvement and support.

The Scouts need to get the big picture about society and face the practical consequences of dated, exclusionary policies.

The Sacramento Bee reports a California lawmaker is working to repeal the state tax-exempt status for any youth organization that discriminates based on gender identity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation.

The Boy Scouts should be guided by the imperative of a good deed. Change the rules, invite all families and flourish.

The Seattle Times, April 30

President Obama taking steps at erasing the stain of Guantanamo

At his news conference Tuesday, President Obama made a powerful plea for ending the humanitarian and diplomatic disaster created by the continued detention of more than 160 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, more than 100 of whom are engaged in a hunger strike that necessitated the dispatch of an emergency medical team. The problem is that Obama has contributed to the crisis by acquiescing to congressional obstruction of his promise to close the facility.

It has been more than four years since the newly inaugurated president issued an executive order promising "promptly to close detention facilities at Guantanamo." Yet the prison remains open (though its population has dwindled from a high of nearly 800 inmates in 2005). Of those remaining, about half have been cleared for release but continue to be detained because of congressional opposition to their repatriation to Yemen and other countries whose authorities might not be able to prevent them from engaging in terrorism. Congress also has used its authority to prevent Obama from transferring detainees to the U.S. mainland, a factor in the decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 conspirators before a military commission rather than in civilian courts.

But Congress isn't entirely to blame.

Before Obama's news conference, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) had urged the administration to renew its efforts to transfer from Guantanamo the 86 inmates cleared for release three years ago by an interagency task force. Obama should do so, ideally with congressional cooperation but unilaterally if necessary.

Guantanamo is a stain on this nation's reputation, not because of where it is located but because the men held captive there are languishing in a legal limbo that would be just as hopeless if they were transplanted to American soil. Notwithstanding Obama's comments about the un-American nature of indefinite detention, more than 40 inmates are being held without the prospect of even a military trial. As he "re-engages" with Congress, Obama should also reconsider his own decision to deny those detainees their day in court.

Los Angeles Times, May 1