CNN host Soledad O'Brien on Wednesday told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins that he could be "on the wrong side of history" after he defended the Boy Scouts' ban on LGBT members by suggesting that homosexuals were more likely to be pedophiles.
As the Boy Scouts of American national board was set to decide if local organizations would be allowed to include gay members on Wednesday, O'Brien asked Perkins if there was "a possibility that you're wrong" because "historically there have been core values that in retrospect turned out to be flawed?"
"You're comparing immutable characteristics with characteristics that are not immutable," Perkins explained. "In part, their policy has been to protect boys, to create obviously not a perfect environment, but one that is in line with what the parents want, to ensure their children are safe when they go out in these scouting activities."
O'Brien wondered "why it would make a difference to open up scouting to people who are gay" because the Boy Scouts had already released 14,500 pages of so-called "perversion files" showing years of sexual abuse on minors that had been covered up by the organization.
"Why would I let a man who is attracted to other males go camping with my boys?" Perkins argued.
"A pedophile has sex with children," O'Brien pointed out. "Are you saying that someone who's gay is a pedophile?"
"No, I never said that," the Family Research Council president insisted. "I'm saying that they're trying to create an environment that is protective the children. This doesn't make it more protective. There is a disproportionate number of male on boy pedophilia -- when we get into pedophilia, it's male on boy. There's a higher incident rate of that. We never said all homosexuals are pedophiles or all pedophiles are homosexuals."
"Why would they want to come in and change an organization that's been around 100 years?" Perkins added.
"Because it's discriminatory," O'Brien observed. "Do you worry you're on the wrong side of history on this? Do you think that you're going to look up and say, 'We were on the wrong side in this debate, that this was an organization that ultimately stood for discriminating against some people.' Don't you worry about that?"
"The question for the scouts is, are we going to continue in our mission and are we going to provide the safest possible environment for these boys or are we going to cave in corporate dollars?" Perkins replied. "That's the question before the board today."
In a statement last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center said that it had listed the Family Research Council as a hate group since 2010 because "it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people," including the claim pedophilia was a "homosexual problem."
Update: Later on Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it had postponed until May a vote on ending the ban.
(h/t: Think Progress)