Vote on gay Scouts comes at emotional moment
by David Crary, Associated Press and Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press
May 23, 2013 12:31 PM | 834 views | 6 6 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Boy Scouts from right, Joey Kalich, 10, Steven Grime, 7, and Jonathon Grime, 9, raise their hands at the close of a news conference held by people against the change in the Boy Scouts of America gay policy Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Boy Scouts from right, Joey Kalich, 10, Steven Grime, 7, and Jonathon Grime, 9, raise their hands at the close of a news conference held by people against the change in the Boy Scouts of America gay policy Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America's national leadership will vote Thursday on whether to allow openly gay Scouts in its ranks, a critical and emotionally charged moment for one of the nation's oldest youth organizations and its millions of members.

About 1,400 voting members of BSA's national council are to cast ballots Thursday on a resolution to end a policy that allows youth Scouts to be excluded based only on sexual orientation. The ban on gay adult leaders would remain in place.

The vote is taking place at a resort in Grapevine, Texas, not far from BSA's headquarters, during the national council's three-day annual meeting. The results are expected to be announced shortly after 5 p.m. CDT Thursday.

Gay-rights supporters and opponents have waged impressive campaigns to win support for their arguments in the months leading up to the vote.

Supporters of allowing gay scouts used a political consulting firm and targeted about 120 local Scouting councils where they thought the most votes could be won. Opponents cited Texas code to obtain the names and addresses of voting members from BSA officials so they could send out mailings, and held rallies across the country last week.

Scouting was established in 1910 and claims 2.6 million youth members, in addition to thousands of leaders and volunteers. Its board of directors includes executives and community leaders, and President Barack Obama is its honorary president.

Obama urged the organization to reverse the ban before a national executive board meeting that took place in February, and two high-profile board members — the CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young — said they would work from within to change the policy.

The national executive board decided instead to leave the final decision to a national council vote, and the BSA launched a listening tour of surveys and focus groups. BSA President Wayne Perry called on voters to approve the resolution overturning the ban in an opinion piece for USA Today published online Wednesday.

Findings that BSA published on its website illustrate the difficult balancing act it faces.

It said a majority of "adults in the Scouting community" support the current ban, but a majority of current Boy Scouts and Venture scouts do not, according to the findings. About 48 percent of parents of current Scouts support the policy, down from 57 percent three years ago.

One estimate suggested a policy change could cause as many as 100,000 to 350,000 Scouts to leave. And it could also affect donors — just more than half of local councils reported to BSA that their donors supported the current ban.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions. While these sponsors include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, 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 supports the new proposal. Leaders of some smaller, conservative denominations have opposed it.

"Ultimately we can't anticipate how people will vote but we do know that the result will not match everyone's personal preference," said Deron Smith, BSA's national spokesman.

____

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

Crary reported from New York.

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

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



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Should the scouts keep their policy that bans gay scouts?


Comments
(6)
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How?
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May 24, 2013
How have we become a country which is ruled by the minority? The vast majority of people think this is a bad idea. And next will be gay leaders. Would you really want your son watched over by a gay Scout leader?
Who cares
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May 24, 2013
Who cares if the scout children think they are straight or gay or both or neither? It's not as if any of them are having sex. They are a bunch of weird cult nerds! The only "partners" they'll eventually have will be whoever they lock up in the secret room they dig under the house mom leaves them in her will!
anonymous
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May 24, 2013
Lib, a fact is that you fight to be heard regarding your atheist, pro-gay opinions, and you call everyone that believes differently than you do all kinds of names and you hurl all types of insults at people that believe differently than you do.

This is important, so please listen. Why do you not give the same respect you are fighting for yourself to people that think differently than you do?

The part I don't get is while you are slinging all these insults and are screaming for equality, you are also screaming that you have a right to believe what you believe. Well, yes, you are correct, you do have that right. On the other hand, so do other people have a right to their opinion that believe in God, that believe homosexuality is a sin, and that are not liberal.

We live in a democracy, Lib, which entitles people to be members of the Tea Party free of being insulted, just as you have the right to be liberal without being insulted.

You can state your opinion without being crass and calling people names and hurling insults at them just because you think differently than you do. That is quite hypocritical to me. That you ask people to hear you and respect you, but you refuse to hear them and respect them.

It is okay to be a liberal. It is okay to be Tea Party. It is okay to believe in the Bible. It is okay to not believe in the Bible. It is okay to believe homosexuality is a sin. It is okay to believe that it is not. That is what democracy is.
Lib in Cobb
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May 23, 2013
Ban the pedophiles. I will say again, the scouts are an exclusionary group and they should join the 21 st century along with all those who have voted yes in this vote above.
D.G. in Clarkdale
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May 23, 2013
Haven't you bleeding hearts done enough damage to America? Vile, disgusting, aberrant, deviant behavior might be OK with the liberal degenerate minority, but not for the rest of us. Forcing the rest of us to accept "your version" of whats morally acceptable is akin to someone being raped "against their will". Yours is moral and spiritual rape and as such should be equally reviled.
Lib in Cobb
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May 24, 2013
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