Boy Scout leaders lift ban on gay scouts; adult ban remains
The Boy Scouts of America have approved a plan to accept openly gay boys as Scouts. A ban on gay adult leaders remains.
It was a vote years in the making. The Boy Scouts of America delegation finally voted to overturn its long-standing ban on openly gay members. But this decision comes with plenty of controversy.
Each of the more than 300 Boy Scout Councils nationwide have sent delegates to the national meeting this week in Dallas including several representatives from the Crossroads Council.
On the eve of the vote, BSA President Wayne Perry called for voters to approve the resolution. He wrote an opinion piece for USA Today saying a change is "the right decision for Boy Scouts."
"It's a very difficult decision for a lot of people, but we are moving forward together, and within our movement everyone agrees one thing, no matter how you feel about this issue, kids are better off in scouting," Perry said after the vote.
It's a big decision with many implications.
When it comes to ministering to others, Rev. Dr. David Hampton has a burden for speaking to the heart.
Dr. Hampton pastors Light of the World Christian Church on the city's north side. The church sponsors and operates a Boy Scout troop. For him, when it comes to the vote on whether to overturn the ban on openly gay members, it's an easy call.
"Our job as a church is to minister, to love, and to help, not to judge," said Dr. Hampton.
Religion plays a powerful role in this debate, but not always in support of gay members. The Scouts invoke God in their membership guidelines. Seventy percent of troops are sponsored by religious organizations.
Protests have erupted around the country, with some groups going so far as to say they'll shut down their troop if they're forced to allow gay members.
On the other side, gay rights groups encourage the national council to reach further than the plan by allowing openly gay youth AND leaders.
"It would difficult to ban someone for revealing who they are. I respect someone for revealing who they are. That's truth. Those who hide who they are would be a bigger issue for me," said Dr. Hampton.
We hit the streets to talk with others involved in scouting to get their take.
"I don't think they should ban gay kids from joining the Boy Scouts. It's a wrong message that they're giving to everybody on what the Boy Scouts are about," said William Richards.
"Young gay kids also need the scouting experience to be prepared for anything they're going to handle in life because they're going to bear different things than most people and I think scouting could help with that," said David Bacon.
A lot of people will be affected by the decision. The Boy Scouts is one of the largest youth organizations in the country - including 100,000 troops that include nearly three million boys ages 7-17 and more than one million adults. Many of them have weighed in on this issue during a public survey and re-examination period over the last two years.