Boy Scouts Delay Decision on Lifting Ban on Gays

Boy Scouts Delay Decision on Lifting Ban on Gays

Boy Scouts Delay Decision on Lifting Ban on Gays

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Feb. 6 2013 10:40 AM

Boy Scouts Delay Decision on Lifting Ban on Gays

A detail of a Boy Scout uniform
A detail of a Boy Scout uniform

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Well, this is a surprise. The Associated Press:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

The Boy Scouts of America's national executive board has delayed a decision on whether to lift its longstanding ban on gay scouts and leaders. BSA said Wednesday the organization will take action on the resolution at its national meeting in May.

The news comes after last week's announcement from the organization that it was considering lifting its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders from its ranks. That statement turned what was already a hot-button issue into a front page story, with President Obama speaking out in favor of the change and Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other conservatives weighing in against it.

The proposed policy, which remains under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization's rules, but would still allow local chapters to continue to ban gays. "The policy change ... would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue," a spokesman for the group explained last week, stressing that the national organization "would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."

If the group ultimately goes through with the change later this year, it would mark a rather stunning reversal in a relatively short period of time. It was only last July that national Boy Scouts officials affirmed the ban, calling it "the best policy for the organization." Since then, however, the push to allow gays into the fold has picked up steam, at both the local level and from deep-pocketed donors. AT&T chief exec Randall Stephenson, for one, had suggested he'd work to end the ban. Stephenson currently sits on the Boy Scouts board and is next in line to be its chairman.

The post was updated at 10:51 a.m. with additional information and analysis.