The Boy Scouts of America will delay a decision on whether to admit gay scouts and scout leaders, the Associated Press reports. The group's board was expected to make a decision Wednesday, but the group's leaders say they need more time for deliberation and won't vote on the policy change until their annual meeting in May.
The policy change under consideration would lift the national ban and allow local troops to decide whether to admit gay members.
A solid majority of Americans support repealing the no-gay policy. According to a Quinnipiac University poll Wednesday, 55 percent of voters want the Boy Scouts to repeal the ban while only 33 percent want it to remain in place.
President Obama had expressed support for the change. “I think that my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life," he said in a CBS News' interview Sunday.
"After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside 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," Deron Smith, BSA's director of public relations, explained the delay in a statement.
The LGBT activists are expressing deep disappointment with the delay. “Every day that the Boy Scouts of America delay action is another day that discrimination prevails,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “Now is the time for action. Young Americans, gay and straight, are hurt by the inaction associated with today’s news. The BSA leadership should end this awful policy once and for all, and open the proud tradition of Scouting to all.”
The media-focused group GLAAD responded immediately on Twitter, writing "Disappointed @boyscouts didn't take a stand to end anti-gay policy today."The group also released statements from gay rights activists Jennifer Tyrell, an Ohio mother who was forced to quit her role as a den mother because she was gay, and Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout who founded Scouts for Equality.
"A scout is supposed to be brave, and the Boy Scouts failed to be brave today," Tyrrell said. "The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they've failed us yet again."
"By postponing this decision, the BSA has caved to those who argue that their anti-gay attitudes trump basic Scouting values of kindness, courtesy and bravery," Wahls said. "Scouting was built on a foundation of respect and dignity. Today, the BSA cracked that foundation."
On the other side of the issue, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins applauded the Boy Scouts for not abandoning their current policy. "The leaders of the Boy Scouts were wise not to abandon their longstanding national membership standards, as they were reportedly on the brink of doing," Perkins said in a statement. "We will also continue to communicate with the Scout leadership about the grave consequences that would result if they were to compromise their moral standards in the face of threats from corporate elites and homosexual activists."
Here's the full statement from BSA:
For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing it’s youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.
After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside 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.
To that end, the National Executive Board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council will take action on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013.