The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

May 24, 2013

Boy Scouts approve plan to accept openly gay boys

(Continued)

Since the executive committee just completed a lengthy review process, there were "no plans for further review on this matter," the group added, indicating it would not be revisiting the ban on gay adults anytime soon.

Among those voting for the proposal to accept openly gay youth was Thomas Roberts of Dawsonville, Ga., who serves on the board of a Scout council in northeast Georgia.

"It was a very hard decision for this organization," he said. "I think ultimately it will be viewed as the right thing."

The BSA's overall "traditional youth membership" — Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers — is now about 2.6 million, compared with more than 4 million in peak years of the past. It also has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.

Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban — notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

While the Southern Baptists were clearly upset by the vote to accept openly gay youth, the Mormon church reacted positively.

"We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner," an official LDS statement said.

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting responded cautiously, saying it would assess the possible impact of the change on Catholic-sponsored Scout units.

The BSA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has long excluded both gays and atheists.

Protests over the no-gays policy gained momentum in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the BSA's right to exclude gays. Scout units lost sponsorships by public schools and other entities that adhered to nondiscrimination policies, and several local Scout councils made public their displeasure with the policy.

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Crary reported from New York.

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Online:

BSA Membership Standards Resolution: http://bit.ly/185yyXk

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Follow David Crary on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/craryap .

Follow Nomaan Merchant on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nomaanmerchant .

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