Lifting a ban on open gay leaders by the Boy Scouts of America would be an incomplete victory for equality advocates. The organizations board Monday is expected to adopt an end to the ban Monday, the New York Times reported, but the change in policy still allows troops run by churches to "choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own," an internal memo said.
"There are differences of opinion, and we need to be respectful of them,” California leader Michael Harrison told the Times. “It doesn’t mean the Mormons have to pick a gay scoutmaster, but please don’t tell the Unitarians they can’t.”
The Boy Scouts of America’s national executive committee unanimously approved a resolution allowing gay adult employees and volunteers July 13. The national executive board will vote Monday, according to advocacy group Scouts for Equality.
If passed, openly gay or bisexual adults would no longer be prohibited from being leaders. Each troop will create its own policy, but regional councils cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation. Gay leaders who previously had to leave the troops can rejoin.
The decision comes about two months after Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates, a former Defense Secretary, told attendees of his annual address: “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.” The organization lifted its ban on gay scouts in 2013.
In May, Gates referenced possible legal conflicts and internal debates -- like the one in the Greater New York Council, which hired an openly gay camp leader in April -- if the group didn't change its policy, International Business Times previously reported.
Gates suggested letting churches set their own standards -- the position the board could adopt Monday. About 72 percent of all scout units are chartered to faith-based organizations.
"We must, at all costs, preserve the religious freedom of our church partners to do this," Gates said.