On Monday, July 13, a leadership panel for the Boy Scouts of America voted to end the ban on gay leaders in scouting. On July 27, the full executive board will vote and after that decision, change will be effective immediately.
While the move doesn’t require troops to allow gay leaders, it does lift the prior ban on gay leaders. It “affirms the right of each chartering organization to reach its own religious and moral conclusions about the specific meaning and application of” the organization’s values.
The day after the vote, governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker published a statement arguing that Boy Scouts should “keep it’s blanket ban on openly gay leaders because the policy ‘protected children and advanced Scout values.’”
After receiving backlash, he said that the change was up to the Boy Scouts, but that “I’m an Eagle Scout…All that I pointed out was that the policy was perfectly fine when I was there and I thought they should be protected from all the political and media controversy about it,” he said. “There’s nothing more to it than that. It’s their decision.”
The national organization specifically states that it will “defend and indemnify to the fullest extent allowed by law” any religious group that is challenged in court for making a “good faith refusal to select a unit leader based upon the religious principles of the chartered organization.”
Executive director of Scouts for Equality, Zach Wahls, said though there are flaws, he hopes the announcement is the beginning of the decades-old ban on gay leaders and parents, like his two mothers.
“For decades, the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay adults has stood as a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America’s most important and recognizable civic organizations,” Wahls said. “While this policy change is not perfect – BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults – it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement.”