The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) officially ended Monday night its highly controversial policy banning openly gay men and women from serving as adult leaders and employees of the organization.
"On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees,” BSA said in a statement.
The resolution, favored by 79 percent of the “present and voting” members of the National Executive Board, follows an earlier recommendation approved unanimously by the BSA’s Executive Committee and is effective immediately, the statement went on to say.
Despite removing the blanket ban, the resolution allows individually chartered troops to maintain the moratorium on openly gay adult leaders, and BSA has vowed to provide legal support to any church-backed chartered organizations that are challenged in court over the continued ban.
While some critics called on the Boy Scouts to extend the new policy to independent troops, other longtime activists applauded tonight’s news as an important first step.
"This vote marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Boy Scouts of America,” said Scouts for Equality executive director Zach Wahls. "As of this vote, the Boy Scouts of America is an organization that is looking forward, not back."
Meanwhile, the Mormon church -- the nation's largest Scouting sponsor -- released a statement saying it would be "carefully" reevaluating its relationship with the BSA in light of the new policy.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today's vote," the church said in a press release. "The admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America."
-- The article was updated at 7:51 a.m.