Boy Scouts may end ban on gays

The Boy Scouts of America may be on the verge of ending its ban on openly gay members, a spokesman for the organization said Friday.

The organization said it would submit a proposal that would overturn the ban on gay scouts during its National Council meeting May 20 in Texas. The group's 1,400 voting members will then vote on the recommendation.

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Deron Smith, a spokesman for the group, told Reuters that under the proposal “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

According to The Associated Press, the Boy Scouts decided to back the change based on the results of surveys sent earlier this year to scouting members.

The group had originally planned to vote on a proposal that would have allowed local troops to decide whether to allow gay scout members in February. Leaders of the organization then said they wanted more time to deliberate the controversial issue, which would have for the first time in the organization's century-long history opened the door for gay scouts.

The issue is a particularly contentious one, with the majority of scout troops — 70 percent — in some way affiliated with churches or religious groups. Just last year, the organization voted to uphold the ban, a decision that drew heavy fire from gay rights groups.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said in February that the administration did not “have a response to [the Boy Scouts’] process” but that the president “opposes discrimination in all forms.”

Later, President Obama voiced his support for the overturn of the ban, saying “nobody should be barred” from the opportunities and experiences provided by scouting.

“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,” Obama said in a CBS News interview. “The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives.”

But prominent Republican lawmakers, including former presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, have argued the organization should not be influenced by changes in “popular culture.”

“Hopefully the board will follow their historic position of keeping the Scouts strongly supportive of the values that make scouting this very important and impactful organization,” Perry, a former Eagle Scout, told The New York Times.