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Boy Scouts lift ban on openly gay boys

Gabe Farmer, Democrat Correspondent • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Boy Scouts of America representatives passed a resolution Thursday that includes the statement “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” 

This vote happened in the middle of a three-day national business meeting at a resort in Grapevine, Texas. Seven delegates representing the Boy Scouts of America Middle Tennessee Council are attending the meetings.

These seven delegates were elected by local boards to represent the ideals of the members of the Middle Tennessee Council, ideals that oppose the new resolution, according to Middle Tennessee Council President Lee Beaman in a press release issued by the Middle Tennessee Council.

“We are continuing to uphold the standards, beliefs and traditions scouting has held for more than 100 years,” Beaman said in a release. “As a representative of the 35,000 youth and adults in the Middle Tennessee Council, it is our duty to take their voice to Grapevine, Texas on May 23 with a vote to uphold the current membership policy”

Hugh Travis, scout executive for the Middle Tennessee Council said in the press release, “The results overwhelmingly signify that the parents, leaders and chartered partners in the Middle Tennessee Council believe that the current membership policy is a core value of the Scout Oath and Law.”

Jeff Hall, committee chairman of Troop 293 in Lebanon, explained those core values he said the Middle Tennessee Council attempted to uphold Thursday.

“Duty to God is one of the three virtues of the Scout Oath,” Hall said. “To keep oneself morally straight is one of the 12 Scout Laws. With similar principles being the foundation of our country, I don’t see why those of another opinion deem it necessary to alter our private organization’s values.”

With same-sex marriage now legal in 12 states, the Boy Scouts of America are now set to join the changing position on gay people. Hall believes, though, with the new resolution, the Boy Scouts will lose some backing.

“The unfortunate part is no matter how the vote tallies this week a dissection has already occurred,” Hall said prior to the vote. “Many great volunteer leaders have lost faith in the National Board and are leaving scouting after many years of service. People and corporations who have donated funding for decades are now choosing to continue or not based upon the vote.”

The Boy Scouts of America’s previous policy of refusing membership to those who are openly gay was a debated topic for years. In 2000, the issue culminated in a Supreme Court case, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. In the landmark case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts of America on basis of a private organization’s First Amendment right to freedom of association. 

With a majority of the 1,400 representatives who attended the meeting in Grapevine, Texas approving the new resolution, it will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014. However, the Boy Scouts of America will continue to prohibit openly gay men from holding leadership roles in the organization.

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