Boy Scouts Change Policy on Gay Leaders

Religious and LGBT groups alike criticize the decision
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2015 7:30 PM CDT
In this May 23, 2014, file photo, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates addresses the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

(Newser) – The Boy Scouts of America has lifted its long-standing ban against adult leaders who are openly gay—with one big exception, the New York Times reports. Today's vote by the Scouts' national executive board will also allow religious-sponsored units to choose leaders they prefer. Yet the Mormon Church, America's biggest Scout-unit sponsor, says Mormon affiliation with the Scouts may still be over. The Church "is deeply troubled by today's vote," according to a Church statement. "When the leadership of the church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with scouting will need to be examined." Similarly, a Baptist leader says the shift to allow gay youths in 2013, and now gay leaders, shows "that this is the final word only until the next evolution."

Effective immediately, the new policy was also criticized by pro-LGBT groups. The religious exemption "undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today's decision," says Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, per CNN. "Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period." NBC News notes that 70% of local Scout units are sponsored by religious groups, but some have opposed banning gay leaders. Today's move, which Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates called for last month, may also ward off rising anti-discrimination lawsuits and enable the Scouts to reconnect with corporate donors who opposed the anti-gay policy. Today's vote passed by 45-12 in a private teleconference, the AP reports. (Read more Boy Scouts of America stories.)

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