UPDATE: In a statement Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America said that “due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.”
“To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns,” the statement continued. “This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013.”
(NEW YORK) — The fate of the long standing ban on gays in the Boy Scouts may be decided by the organization’s governing board on Wednesday, when officials wrap up their third day of closed-door meetings outside Dallas.
Supporters of lifting the ban say it would be good for the organization.
“The Boy Scouts will make a private choice and I think that if scouting wants to have a prosperous future in the United States, they’re going to have to appeal to those of us who have young kids and are going to be enrolling them in the program,” explains Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality.
“If you look at where young Americans are on this issue, especially the Millennial Generation, those of us under the age of 35, we are overwhelmingly supporting LGBT equality and recognizing that gay people are, you know, people,” he says.
But opponents, like Richard Land, who heads the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, warn of consequences to the Boy Scouts if the ban is lifted.
“There will be a mass exodus from scouting to some new form of organization if the scouts make this decision,” Land says.
Even though the organization has promised church-affiliated troops would still be able to decide whether to keep the ban in place, Land doesn’t buy it.
“This is not a live and let live situation here. They want to force every scout troop in America to accept homosexual scout leaders and homosexual scout members,” he says.
Despite the objection of the Southern Baptist Convention, Wahls points out that many other denominations support the lifting of the ban.
“Presbyterian clergy, numerous United Methodist ministries, the ELCA Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ have all weighed in and believe that ending this policy would be in line with scouting’s fundamental values of dignity and respect,” he says.
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