In one of their most dramatic choices in a century, local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation’s leading youth organization.
Gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders.
Of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal.
Casting ballots were about 1,400 voting members of BSA’s National Council who were attending their annual meeting at a conference center not far from BSA headquarters in suburban Dallas.
The vote will not end the wrenching debate over the Scouts’ membership policy, and it could trigger defections among those on the losing side…
Of course. Would you expect bigots to accept democracy – along with civil rights?
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.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it was satisfied with new proposal, and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting did not oppose it.
The frustration felt by those who oppose full civil rights for all Americans is nothing new. The nation listened to their whine and breast-beating over accepting non-whites, witnessed the transformation of local chapters of one or another organization or institution into something designed to maintain racial purity. Some of the same will take place over sexual orientation, now.
And, then, time and tide will continue to roll forward over the reactionaries who always think half-measures are all they can bear.