The Boy Scouts of America have announced that they will delay voting on the decision to reverse a ban on gay individual and troop leader participation within the organization until May.
“After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization,” said Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations for the organization, “the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy."
Smith noted that committees will continue “to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns.”
The announcement comes on Feb. 6, the day the 1,400 voting members of the national council were supposed to either re-affirm or overturn the organization’s ban on gay members- including scout leaders. The decision affecting nearly 2.7 million members will now be delayed until May 2013.
In late January, Boy Scouts of America announced that they were considering ending their national ban on gay individuals and troop leaders in the organization following the loss of funding from high-profile donors such as UPS for their policy.
Smith added in a Jan. 28 statement that organizations that sponsor and oversee scouting groups, such as churches, would not be ordered “to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”
President Barack Obama has expressed support of an end to the organization’s current policy, which was upheld as a constitutional expression of free speech by the Supreme Court in 2000. “My attitude,” Obama said, “is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life.”
Family Research Council said it was “encouraged” by the delay in changing the national policy. Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council thanked the Boy Scouts for continuing to maintain their national membership standards and thanked the Scout parents who expressed “an overwhelming outpouring of support for maintaining the Scouts' timeless values.”
Perkins continued, saying that the delay was “not enough,” calling officials within the Boy Scouts of America to “publicly re-affirm their current standards, as they did just last July.” He also warned of “grave consequences,” should the Boy Scouts change their policy and compromise their moral standards in the face of threats from corporate elites and homosexual activists."
Over 40 organizations including Media Research Center, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Concerned Women for America, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty and others have joined Family Research Council in asking Boy Scouts of America to retain the current national rule.
The organizations took out an advertisement in USA Today on Feb. 4, saying that the current rule is consistent with the Scout oath keep oneself “morally straight.” The ad also added that the current policy helps to protect scouts from sexual abuse and helps parents maintain control over their children’s sexual education. “To compromise moral principles under political and financial pressure,” the ad said, “would teach boys cowardice, not courage.”