The Boys Scouts of America ended its ban on gay adult Scout leaders, a move approved by the National Executive Board in a 45-12 vote yesterday. The previous policy of no gays allowed had been eased slightly in 2013 when the BSA allowed openly gay youth as scouts but did not allow gay adults to serve as leaders.
“For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us,” said the BSA’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good.”
Though the policy has changed, the Scouts will allow individual church-sponsored Scout units to continue to exclude gays for religious reasons. The Mormon Church sponsors more Scout units than any other organization and has previously hinted at starting their own organization to replace the Boy Scouts.
“The admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America,” said a statement from Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City.
Those who were affected by the old policy would have the opportunity to reapply for their previous volunteer positions. If qualified, they would be eligible to serve as Scoutmaster or unit leader.
In previous years, the BSA has come under fire for their exclusion of gays, with the U.S. Supreme Court upholding that policy. It resulted in a number of corporations to stop charitable donations to the Scouts and caused financial and political turmoil in some municipalities.