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Boy Scouts punt on lifting anti-gay ban

The national organization, expected to vote today on their anti-gay policy, has put off the decision until May


Katie McDonough
February 6, 2013 9:25PM (UTC)

The Boy Scouts national executive board has delayed their decision on whether to lift its ban on gay scouts and leaders until its national meeting in May.

The organization announced last week that it was considering changing its longstanding policy against gay leaders and scouts, and it's been big, polarizing news ever since.

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Many have come out in support of lifting the ban, including President Barack Obama, who addressed the issue on Sunday. "My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life. The Scouts are a great institution that is promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives, and I think that nobody should be barred from that," he said in an interview with CBS.

But opposition has been heated, with many church groups threatening mass defections and to withdraw funding if the national organization goes through with the change.

“Churches of all faiths and denominations, including Southern Baptist churches, will be forced to reevaluate whether they can, in good conscience, continue to host Scout troops given that the Scouts appear poised to turn their backs on this clear biblical and moral issue,” Roger Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, said.

More than 70 percent of scout troops are chartered by religious organizations.

And while the change would be a nominal victory for gay scouts and equal rights, the proposed policy -- if passed -- wouldn't necessarily eradicate anti-gay bias from the scout's ranks. The organization would still allow regional councils to determine their own policies around sexuality, which critics argue could result in ongoing discrimination.

Feeling down about the news? Why not watch Soledad O'Brien tell Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council what's what after he implies lifting a ban on gay members will result in pedophiles flocking to the scouts?

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Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Boy Scouts Of America Gay Rights Lgbt Lgbtq Religion Video

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