The Boy Scouts of America are nearing a decision to end its decades-long ban on openly gay members and leaders, according to scouting leaders and outside sources familiar with the internal discussions:
NBC News reports:
The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts…The discussion of a potential change in policy is nearing its final stages, according to outside scouting supporters. If approved, the change could be announced as early as next week, after the BSA’s national board holds a regularly scheduled meeting.
Under the new policy, the BSA “would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue,” said national spokesperson Deron Smith.
“The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents,” he continued. “Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs.”
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the BSA, claiming the private youth organization had a First Amendment right to discriminate against homosexual conduct as it was inconsistent with the values stated in the Scout oath, requiring scouts to be “morally straight.”
Last July, the BSA reaffirmed its gay ban after a two-year examination of its policies by a committee of volunteers. Amidst the subsequent public outcry, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney called for an end to the ban during the 2012 Presidential Election and the BSA lost a number of sponsorships as well:
About 50 local United Way groups and several corporations and charities have concluded that the ban violates their non-discrimination requirements and have ceased providing financial aid to the Boy Scouts. An official of The Human Rights Campaign, an advocate for gay rights, said HRC planned to downgrade its non-discrimination ratings for corporations that continue to give the BSA financial support.
“It’s an extremely complex issue,” said a BSA official, who explained that other organizations have also threatened to withdraw their financial support if the BSA indeed drops the ban. “The beliefs of the sponsoring organizations are highly diverse.”