America’s Boy Scouts are just one step away from repealing a ban on gay leadership. The national organization announced today (July 13) that its executive committee voted unanimously “to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation,” according to the release. The change will take effect on July 27, if the organizations’s National Executive Board ratifies the resolution.
The resolution removes the blanket ban on scout leaders that currently exists, but does allow individually chartered troops or units to decide whether they will allow gay and bisexual scoutmasters and volunteers on the basis of religious freedom. In 2014, a rule took effect saying that boys could not be denied membership on the basis of sexual orientation.
In a May address at the national Boy Scouts’ meeting, national Boy Scouts president and former US secretary of defense Robert Gates talked about the need for updated standards for legal reasons, given measures like the the Supreme Court decision that was “impending” at the time but has since legalized gay marriage throughout the US, and the growing number of states that are passing laws to protect the rights of LGBT employees.
“I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to presidents when I was director of CIA and secretary of defense,” Gates said. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”
The group Scouts for Equality posted the full resolution as well as a statement from the group’s executive director, Zach Wahls:
“For decades, the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay adults has stood as a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America’s most important and recognizable civic organizations. While this policy change is not perfect—BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults—it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement.”