The Boy Scouts of America, facing litigation, shrinking membership and sweeping acceptance of gay rights, voted Monday to lift its ban on openly gay troop leaders and employees.
The national organization will no longer allow discrimination against its paid workers or at BSA-owned facilities. But local troops and councils will be permitted to decide for themselves whether they will allow openly gay volunteer leaders.
It wasn’t clear if the compromise would satisfy religious traditionalists. The Mormon Church put out a statement Monday night saying its “century-long association with Scouting would need to be examined.”
The executive board’s vote was taken at the suggestion of the group’s president, former defense secretary Robert Gates, who noted that the Scouts are facing potential lawsuits by gay adults who were shut out of positions. But church-state legal experts said the decision will likely just shift the controversy and legal battles from the national group to local troops and councils as volunteers barred from participating file suit.