LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — The Boy Scouts councils in Los Angeles and Orange counties were moving Tuesday to implement a decision made by the national organization to allow openly gay Scoutmasters and volunteers.
The new policy aimed at easing a controversy that has embroiled the Boy Scouts for years takes effect immediately. It was approved Monday by the BSA’s National Executive Board on a 45-12 vote during a closed-to-the-media teleconference.
Jerry Morton with the Boy Scouts Of America’s Los Angeles Council told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the BSA will allow church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons.
“I think it’s going to be a very small fraction that’s gonna choose anything but complete inclusiveness, and I think that’s an excellent way to address this issue,” said Morton.
He compared the new policy to how certain veterans groups may prefer a Scoutmaster for their particular troop to be a veteran of foreign wars.
“Somebody who has a certain religion might want somebody for their charter troop who supports their belief, and that’s OK with us,” he said.
Initial reactions to the decision from groups on both sides suggested the issue would remain divisive.
The Mormon church, which sponsors more Scout units that any other organization, said it was “deeply troubled” by the decision. Church officials suggested they would look into the possibility of forming their own organization to replace Boy Scouts.
“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,” a statement from Mormon headquarters in Salt Lake City said.
In contrast, the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights organization, said the Boy Scouts should not allow church-sponsored units to continue excluding gay leaders.
“Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “BSA officials should now demonstrate true leadership and begin the process of considering a full national policy of inclusion.”
Gates foreshadowed Monday’s action May 21, when he told the Scouts’ national meeting that the longstanding ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable. He said the ban was likely to be the target of lawsuits that the Scouts likely would lose.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)