Boy Scouts lift blanket ban on gay adult leaders, employees

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Boy Scouts Lifting Ban on Gay Youth Leaders

The Boy Scouts of America lifted its outright ban on openly gay adult leaders and employees on Monday, rolling back a policy that has deeply divided the membership of the 105-year-old Texas-based organization.

The new policy, which takes effect immediately, comes three years after the organization removed its prohibition on gay youth, but local Boy Scout units chartered by religious organizations will still be permitted to exclude gay adults from volunteering as den leaders, scoutmasters or camp counselors.

The latest move was widely seen as being aimed at quelling a backlash against the Boy Scouts amid declining membership and the threat of litigation, while addressing concerns of religious institutions that account for about 70 percent of the 100,000-plus Boy Scout units nationwide.

The rest are chartered to civic groups and educational organizations.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest of all Boy Scout sponsors, said in a statement it was "deeply troubled" by the move and said the Mormons' "century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined."

The resolution implementing the change was backed by 79 percent of the National Executive Board members voting and present on Monday, the Boy Scouts said. The organization's executive committee had unanimously recommended adoption of the new policy on July 13, citing a "sea change in the law with respect to gay rights."

The Boy Scouts' president, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, called for change in May, saying continuation of the blanket ban on gay Scout leaders was "unsustainable".

See photos of the Boy Scouts opening their ranks to gay youth:

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Boy Scouts of America Open Ranks to Gay Youth, new hire, Pascal Tessier
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Boy Scouts lift blanket ban on gay adult leaders, employees
SAN RAFAEL, CA - JULY 27: Boy Scout merit badge patches are displayed in a store at the Marin Council of the Boy Scouts of America on July 27, 2015 in San Rafael, California. The national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America is poised to vote to end a ban on gay adult leaders. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN RAFAEL, CA - JULY 27: A Boy Scout uniform hangs in a store at the Marin Council of the Boy Scouts of America on July 27, 2015 in San Rafael, California. The national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America is poised to vote to end a ban on gay adult leaders. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN RAFAEL, CA - JULY 27: The Boy Scout logo is displayed in a store at the Marin Council of the Boy Scouts of America on July 27, 2015 in San Rafael, California. The national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America is poised to vote to end a ban on gay adult leaders. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Scout leader Jesse Pacem, left, directs Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as they prepare to lead marchers at the 41st annual Pride Parade Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Seattle. Large turnouts were expected for gay pride parades across the U.S. following the landmark Supreme Court ruling that said gay couples can marry anywhere in the country. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts prepare to lead marchers while waving flags at the 41st annual Pride Parade Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Seattle. A large turnout was expected for gay pride parades across the U.S. following the landmark Supreme Court ruling that said gay couples can marry anywhere in the country. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Dave Knapp, Pascal Tessier and Greg Bourke attend the 19th Annual Out100 Awards presented by Buick at Terminal 5 on November 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for OUT100 presented by Buick)
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2014 file photo, Pascal Tessier smiles at a meeting where he received his Eagle Scout badge in Chevy Chase, Md. On Thursday, April 2, 2015, the Boy Scouts’ New York chapter announced it hired Tessier as the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout as a summer camp leader in public contrast to the national scouting organization’s ban on openly gay adult members. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)
The Boy Scout uniform of Pascal Tessier, 17, a gay Eagle Scout from Kensington, Md., includes his merit badges and a rainbow-colored neckerchief slider, as he speaks in front of a group of Boy Scouts and scout leaders, Wednesday, May 21, 2014, outside the headquarters of Amazon.com in Seattle. The group delivered a petition to Amazon that was started as an online effort by Tessier and gathered more than 125,000 signatures, urging Amazon to stop donating money to the Boy Scouts due to the organization's policy of excluding openly gay adults from leadership positions, despite recently accepting gay youth as scouts. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2014 fie photo Pascal Tessier, left, a gay Boy Scout, receives his Eagle Scout badge from Troop 52 Scoutmaster Don Beckham, right, in Chevy Chase, Md., to become one of the first openly gay scouts to reach scouting's highest rank. The Boy Scouts of America said Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 that it lost 6 percent of its membership after an often-bruising year in which it announced it would accept openly gay boys for the first time, over the objections of some participants who eventually left the organization. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)
In this Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 photo, Pascal Tessier, 16, center left, a Boy Scout, and his brother Lucien Tessier, 20, who had earned the rank of Eagle Scout, pose for a portrait with their parents, Oliver Tessier, left, and Tracie Felker, at their home in Kensington, Md. The two Tessier boys enjoyed Cub Scouts, progressed to Boy Scouts, and continued to thrive there even as many in their troop became aware that each boy was gay. The family is grateful for that, but fervently hopes the BSA's top leaders officially scrap the ban so that open acceptance becomes the norm for Scout units nationwide. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Pascal Tessier ,center, takes part in an activity with Matthew Huerta, left, and Michael Fine, right, after he received his Eagle Scout badge from Troop 52 Scoutmaster Don Beckham, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Chevy Chase, Md. Tessier, of Maryland, has become one of the first openly gay scouts to reach the highest rank of Eagle, following a policy change to allow gay youth in the Boy Scouts of America. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
Pascal Tessier, 17, left, a gay Eagle Scout from Kensington, Md., leads a group of Boy Scouts and scout leaders, Wednesday, May 21, 2014, in delivering four boxes of signatures and comments on a petition to Amazon.com that was started as an online effort by Tessier, urging Amazon to stop donating money to the Boy Scouts due to the organization's policy of excluding openly gay adults from leadership positions, despite recently accepting gay youth as scouts, outside the headquarters of Amazon.com in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Pascal Tessier, 17, a gay Eagle Scout from Kensington, Md., speaks in front of a group of Boy Scouts and scout leaders, Wednesday, May 21, 2014, outside the headquarters of Amazon.com in Seattle. The group delivered a petition to Amazon that was started as an online effort by Tessier and gathered more than 125,000 signatures, urging Amazon to stop donating money to the Boy Scouts due to the organization's policy of excluding openly gay adults from leadership positions, despite recently accepting gay youth as scouts. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Pascal Tessier, 17, a gay Eagle Scout from Kensington, Md., right, speaks in front of a group of Boy Scouts and scout leaders, Wednesday, May 21, 2014, outside the headquarters of Amazon.com in Seattle. The group delivered a petition to Amazon that was started as an online effort by Tessier and gathered more than 125,000 signatures, urging Amazon to stop donating money to the Boy Scouts due to the organization's policy of excluding openly gay adults from leadership positions, despite recently accepting gay youth as scouts. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Boy Scouts of America National Commissioner Tico Perez, front, addresses reporters questions as BSA National President Wayne Perry, left, rear, watches Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. Local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation's leading youth organization ? one of the most dramatic moves the organization has made in a century. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Terri Hall, left, of San Anotonio, Texas, stands with her son Nathaniel Hall, 8, as they holds signs near where the Boy Scouts of America are holding their annual meeting Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. Delegates to the meeting are expected to address a proposal to allow gay scouts into the organization. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Members of Scouts for Equality hold a rally to call for equality and inclusion for gays in the Boy Scouts of America as part of the "Scouts for Equality Day of Action" May 22, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Boy Scouts of America is scheduled to hold a two day meeting tomorrow with 1,400 local adult leaders to consider changing its policy of barring openly gay teens from participating in the Boy Scouts. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - APRIL 11: Pascal Tessier, 16, left, protests with others for equality within Boy Scouts of America along Wisconsin Ave. on Thursday April 11, 2013 in Bethesda, MD. Tessier is a scout and is gay. (Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Former Cub Scouts den leader Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted from Scouting because she is openly gay, wears a button on her uniform shirt that reads "We Support All Boy Scouts" as she responds to a reporters question Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. Local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation's leading youth organization ? one of the most dramatic moves the organization has made in a century. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Boy Scouts from right, Joey Kalich, 10, Steven Grime, 7, and Jonathon Grime, 9, raise their hands at the close of a news conference held by people against the change in the Boy Scouts of America gay policy Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. Delegates to the Boys Scouts of America meeting nearby are expected to address a proposal on Thursday to allow gay scouts into the organization. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Former Cub Scouts den leader Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted from Scouting because she is openly gay, responds to a reporters question Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. Local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation's leading youth organization ? one of the most dramatic moves the organization has made in a century. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
GRAPEVINE, TX - MAY 23: Jennifer Tyrrell (L) of Bridgeport, Ohio, speaks at a news conference as Pascal Tessier, 16, of Kensington, Maryland, wipes his eyes at a news conference held at the Great Wolf Lodge May 23, 2013 in Grapevine, Texas. The Boy Scouts of America today ended its policy of prohibitting openly gay youths from participating in Scout activities, while leaving intact its ban on gay adults and leaders. Jennifer was kicked out of the scouts as a Cub Scout den leader in 2012 for being openly gay. Pascal, who was told by Scout leaders that since he was openly gay, he could not attain the Eagle Scout rank, but was permitted to remain a Scout, will now be able to resume his pursuit of the Eagle Scout rank. (Photo by Stewart House/Getty Images)
GRAPEVINE, TX - MAY 23: Jennifer Tyrrell of Bridgeport, Ohio, hugs Pascal Tessier, 16, of Kensington, Maryland, at a news conference held at the Great Wolf Lodge May 23, 2013 in Grapevine, Texas. The Boy Scouts of America today ended its policy of prohibitting openly gay youths from participating in Scout activities, while leaving intact its ban on gay adults and leaders. Jennifer was kicked out of the scouts as a Cub Scout den leader in 2012 for being openly gay. Pascal was told by Scout leaders that since he was openly gay he could not attain the Eagle Scout rank, but was permitted to remain a Scout. After today's decision, he will be able to resume his pursuit of the Eagle Scout rank. (Photo by Stewart House/Getty Images)
GRAPEVINE, TX - MAY 23: Jennifer Tyrrell of Bridgeport, Ohio, a Cub Scout den leader who was kicked out in 2012 for being openly gay, embraces her son Cruz Burns, 8, before a news conference at the Great Wolf Lodge May 23, 2013 in Grapevine, Texas. The Boy Scouts of America today ended its policy of prohibitting openly gay youths from participating in Scout activities, while leaving intact its ban on gay adults and leaders. (Photo by Stewart House/Getty Images)
Former Boys Scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell, center, is greeted as her son and current Boy Scout Cruz Burns, 8, bottom, looks on during the Equal Scouting Summit being held near where the Boy Scouts of America are holding their annual meeting Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. Delegates to the Boys Scouts of America meeting are expected to address a proposal to allow gay scouts into the organization. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Boys Scout Alex Derr speaks out against anit-gay rules during the Equal Scouting Summit Press Conference being held near where the Boy Scouts of America are holding their annual meeting Wednesday, May 22, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. The boxes in front of Derr hold petitions calling for the Boy Scouts of America to end its anti-gay policies. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2013 file photo, from left, Joshua Kusterer, 12, Nach Mitschke, 6, and Wyatt Mitschke, 4, salute as they recite the pledge of allegiance during the ?Save Our Scouts? prayer vigil and rally against allowing gays in the organization in front of the Boy Scouts of America National Headquarters in Dallas, Texas. Under pressure over its long-standing ban on gays, the BSA announced Friday, April 19, 2013, that it will submit a proposal to its National Council to lift the ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders. (AP Photo/Richard Rodriguez, File)
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He repeated that assertion on Monday, saying efforts to keep the old policy intact would lead to "simultaneous legal battles in multiple jurisdictions and at staggering cost."

Moreover, a number of major corporate sponsors, such as Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT.N) and Intel Corp. (INTC.O), in recent years dropped their support for the Boy Scouts in protest of policies they considered discriminatory.

Gates stressed the new policy enables religiously chartered Scouting units to "continue to use religious beliefs as a criterion for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality."

However, no adult applying for a job as a paid employee or as a volunteer outside a local unit will be turned away on the basis of sexual orientation, according to the resolution.

The decision follows the landmark ruling in late June by the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriages nationwide.

The Boy Scouts lifted its ban on gay youth in 2013. The selection of Gates as president last year was seen as an opportunity to revisit the policy on adult leaders since he helped end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that barred openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military.

The Boy Scouts of America, whose stated mission is to prepare youth for life and leadership, has 2.5 million members between the ages of 7 and 21 and about 960,000 volunteers in local units, according to the organization's website.

The anticipated end of the Boy Scouts ban has been welcomed by gay rights advocates and criticized by conservatives.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and executive director of Scouts for Equality, has labeled the ban a "towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia."

"While we still have some reservations about individual units discriminating against gay adults, we couldn't be more excited about the future of Scouting," he said on Monday. He called on those who left Scouting because of its previous policies to "rejoin the fold."

John Stemberger, chairman of the Christian youth outdoor program Trail Life USA, said on Friday that lifting the ban would be an affront to Christian morals and will make it "even more challenging for a church to integrate a (Boy Scouts) unit as part of a church's ministry offerings."

(Reporting by Marice Richter in Dallas; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Ken Wills)

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