The Boy Scouts of America’s historic vote on whether to allow openly gay youth to remain in the organization has just passed with a 61 percent vote.
The policy change was criticized by some for its continuing exclusion of gay adults, meaning that even under the new policy, gay Scout leaders are still banned, and gay youth can no longer be active in the organization once they turn 18.
The vote was held in Grapevine, Texas, close to BSA headquarters during the council’s annual three-day meeting. The meeting was not open to the public, but closely monitored by both proponents and opponents of the policy change; groups on both sides of the issue launched campaigns to hopefully sway opinions and held rallies.
The Boy Scouts have faced increasing pressure over its policy of excluding gay Scouts and leaders, with multiple businesses, organizations, and even a city withdrawing its support of the BSA due to its discrimination.
President Obama, also the honorary president of the BSA’s board of directors, said in February, “my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunities the same way that everybody else does, and in every institution and walk of life. And, you know, the Scouts are a great institution… and I think nobody should be barred from that.” High-profile board members James Turley and Randall Stephenson, the CEOs of Ernst & Young and AT&T respectively, have been working from the inside to push changes to current policy.
The BSA’s president, Wayne Perry, wrote an opinion piece for USA Today in which he said that “At the BSA’s National Annual Meeting today, the 1,400 voting members of our National Council will vote on a proposed resolution that would end the restriction on gay youth membership. That’s the right decision for Boy Scouts.”