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Boy Scouts Release Statement on Gay Ban Vote Delay

The Boy Scouts released this statement on the gay ban vote, which has been postponed until May:

BsaFor 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing it's youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.

After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.

To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting's membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers' work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013.

Tell us your theories about what's behind the delay in the comments.

UPDATE: More reactions, via GLAAD.

"An organization that serves youth and chooses to intentionally hurt dedicated young people and hardworking parents not only flies in the face of American principles, but the principles of being a Boy Scout," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "The Boy Scouts of America is choosing to ignore the cries of millions, including religious institutions, current scouting families, and corporate sponsors, but these cries will not be silenced. We're living in a culture where hurting young gay people because of who they are is unpopular and discriminatory. They had the chance to end the pain this ban has caused to young people and parents, they chose to extend the pain."
Jennifer Tyrrell, a gay mom from Bridgeport, Ohio, who was ousted as the leader of her son’s Cub Scout Pack in April 2012 because of her sexual orientation, helped spark a national movement calling on the Boy Scouts to change its policy. Tyrrell, with the support of GLAAD, started a petition on that rallied hundreds of thousands urging the Boy Scouts to welcome gay Scouts and leaders.
"A scout is supposed to be brave, and the Boy Scouts failed to be brave today," said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell. "The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they've failed us yet again. No parent should have to loo their child in the eye and explain that the Boy Scouts don't want us. Our fight will continue and we will continue to educate donors and supporters of the Boy Scouts about the effects of their anti-gay policy.”
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of the organization Scouts for Equality, said that today’s news was simply not a strong enough gesture from the Boy Scouts of America to ensure that they take discrimination seriously.
"This is an abdication of responsibility," said straight Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the founder of Scouts for Equality. "By postponing this decision, the BSA has caved to those who argue that their anti-gay attitudes trump basic Scouting values of kindness, courtesy and bravery. Scouting was built on a foundation of respect and dignity. Today, the BSA cracked that foundation."
"On Monday, the Boy Scouts of America received 1.4 million petition signatures urging the organization to end its national policy banning gay youth and parents, and today, those voices went unanswered," said Senior Campaign Manager Mark Anthony Dingbaum. "With 9 national campaigns and over 50 local campaigns already launched on calling for an end to the BSA's policy, how many more stories of gay youth and leaders, like Ryan Andresen and Jen Tyrrell, need to surface before the Boy Scouts decide to end this policy?"

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  1. My theory: They don't have the votes to overturn the ban but don't want the vote to fail until they're safely back out of the public spotlight.

    Posted by: DL | Feb 6, 2013 11:23:36 AM

  2. Translation: The religious right has been complaining that this moved too fast over the last two weeks and they haven't had a chance to mount an effective campaign.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 6, 2013 11:24:08 AM

  3. The anti-gay leadership took a quick poll and realized the ban will be overturned by vote so now they want time to bully the people in the other direction.

    Posted by: RandyN | Feb 6, 2013 11:25:26 AM

  4. My theory: craven cowardice.

    Posted by: Just A Theory | Feb 6, 2013 11:26:29 AM

  5. DL is probably right. The Utah Boy Scouts alone can stop a change in policy.

    Posted by: Jake | Feb 6, 2013 11:28:10 AM

  6. cowards

    Posted by: C.J. | Feb 6, 2013 11:28:23 AM

  7. Duh, the 1,400 people voting on the issue in May will be a public way of them saying "See! Our elected leadership representatives are against the change. Nothing we can do at this point!"

    Since the majority of troops are sponsored by religious organizations, there shouldn't be any doubt how the vote will go. A vote by 1,400 people has a lot more "legitimacy" in the eyes of the public than a secretive small national committee. The Executive Board punted, plain and simple.

    Posted by: joe | Feb 6, 2013 11:30:43 AM

  8. Boy Scouts are American

    So is stalling important decision-making/i.e. taking forever to make any kind of progress.

    Our country's leaders are the slow drivers in the fast lane.

    Posted by: Michael Graye | Feb 6, 2013 11:31:27 AM

  9. I think they were convinced that if they did this split the baby policy that they would see huge lawsuits trying to strip away properties by splinter scouting groups...

    And let's not forget that the Supremes are set to rule on marriage equality - and if they made this move before the hearings it would be viewed as another sign that gays & lesbians should have equal rights.

    Posted by: Mike in Houston | Feb 6, 2013 11:34:09 AM

  10. They're being cowards, waiting for the heat to die down so they can reaffirm the ban out of the spotlight.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Feb 6, 2013 11:35:31 AM

  11. Putting it to a vote of the 1,400 council members sounds a lot like "let's let the people decide" on marriage equality. It's the way legislatures, and now the BSA, weasel out of making a tough decision.

    BTW, that comment about the "complexity of the issue" is another weasel phrase. It ain't that complicated, boys.

    Posted by: Jacques | Feb 6, 2013 11:35:43 AM

  12. The Boy Scouts are caving to pressure from the Mormon Church. The Mormons have been all over the news here in Salt Lake complaining that since they are the single biggest faith-based sponsor of scouting (420,000 scouts), it's unfair that they don't get a say. And while the Mormons are claiming to "warm" to gays and marriage equality, the Mormon Church has filed a brief with the Supreme Court (as has the Utah Attorney General) supporting Prop 8 and DOMA. So they are exerting their political pressure to keep gays from the Boy Scouts and continuing to push for bans on marriage equality.

    Posted by: Dave P | Feb 6, 2013 11:36:32 AM

  13. Rock and a hard place. If they cave to the haters, they'll be seen as moving backward and lose more corporate cash. If they do the right thing, they'll lose support and membership from the haters. Either way, they're going to take a huge hit. I think they're just trying to wait until the heat is off.

    Good luck with that.

    Posted by: Trev | Feb 6, 2013 11:38:01 AM

  14. They are buying time because they are stuck between a rock and hard place: 70% of their chapters are religious-backed and the majority of Americans feel that their policy is wrong and the numbers enrolled in Scouting are dwindling.

    Posted by: Joe in SF | Feb 6, 2013 11:39:28 AM

  15. the focus needs to get back to the reality that it's discriminating against gay SCOUTS - the bigoted-right keeps turning it only to "gay leaders who want to teach your children how to have anal sex", or something preposterous like that.

    it isn't even about allowing gays INTO the scouts - it's about allowing gay scouts to Come Out.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Feb 6, 2013 11:39:52 AM

  16. My theory: The BSA is letting this issue hang in the air in order to scare the homophobic @$$holes that fund them into throwing more money at them. There's no valid reason to delay the vote other than to blackmail the rich Christo-facists into opening their wallets wider.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Feb 6, 2013 11:47:00 AM

  17. LK you are right! There are and always have been gays in the scouting program since the days of ABPowell!

    Posted by: Goodcarver | Feb 6, 2013 11:49:22 AM

  18. History will recall the hypocrisy of the BSA and they should be forbidden from using public buildings as meeting places.

    Posted by: lk | Feb 6, 2013 11:51:36 AM

  19. The move is all about money. They know that if they make a move without the approval of the Mormon Church, they'll lose so much funding that it could potentially destroy the organization.

    By delaying it, they're going to let the issue play out in the court of public opinion and use that to gauge how they should vote. If they decide to overturn it right now, they'll risk the Mormons running out on them. But if this is debated in the news over the next few months and the BSA sees that the public opinion is going vastly in favor of allowing gays in scouting, they'll probably use that to convince the Mormon Church to go ahead with the idea of segregated troops.

    It's up to us to make sure that this issue stays in the news and in public conversations.

    Posted by: JH | Feb 6, 2013 12:06:29 PM

  20. While they are "considering" they should change their name from BSA to PCB:

    Pathetic Cowardly Bigots.

    I'm sure they feel that they are in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

    They were only going to vote that INDIVIDUAL troops could admit gays if they wished.

    It's not like they were going to allow gays in the organization nationwide. In my book, that was too little, too late.

    Posted by: Anon | Feb 6, 2013 12:13:18 PM

  21. Is there a merit badge for wussing out? Even if this gets ugly, there might be silver lining. Corporate sponsors will continue to dump the BSA as long as this stands, and the church backers will be pressured to make up the difference financially. Less money left to flowing to NOM and the like.

    Posted by: Blake | Feb 6, 2013 12:27:07 PM

  22. Most Americans today do not agree that homosexuals are evil. This includes a great many religious parents who understand the Bible to mean yes to welcoming gay boys. They do no believe that it is a Christian ideal to make a young boy feel bad about himself because he is different. Many of these parents, and or their children, have voted with their feet not to join the scouts for this reason.

    55 percent of Americans think the Boy Scouts should allow gay members, and only 33 percent say the group should not.

    The Boy Scouts used to discriminate against African American boys and youths and ended that completely only in 1974. The same narrow minded religious point of
    view justified that.

    The Scouts were correct; they should reconsider their entire discriminatory policy to be inclusive and helpful to all boys in every part of the country.

    Posted by: Jean | Feb 6, 2013 12:44:31 PM

  23. IMO, the BSA actually is looking to change the policy and if they weren't they would have just ended the issue today and said no again. At least at the very top, there is some new leadership that has come in the last years who are against the ban. I think they know a lot of individual scout troops, and that public opinion, is against this ban. They're losing membership. They're losing corporate funding.

    But did they wuss out? Of course. They DON'T know what to do here. If anything the BSA is panicking. What do they do, piss off the fundies, or piss off everyone else? They've turned this into a popular vote situation. Now they're going to measure what decision will cause them the most damage. If anything they're looking to see how much money they're going to lose from the churches if they eliminate the policy and how and if they can recoup any of it afterward. So in my eyes, they're laying groundwork for whatever decision is made and the backlash that the organization will receive. It is a pretty complex situation in the sense that it's a decision that will change the direction the BSA goes in our country. Either they will continue to slide into fringe group category or they'll become more palatable to everyday parents who don't want to put their kids in a group that promotes hate with this policy.

    Honestly, by waiting until May, the pressure to end the ban is only going to increase, especially since by May, DOMA/Prop 8 will have already gone through oral arguments in SCOTUS and people will be fired up. We have to continue making a fuss of this and not let this die. We have to email email email and pressure corporations to end business with BSA. This is for the kids. This is crucial for us as a community.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 6, 2013 1:25:55 PM

  24. the scouts want to be a conservative religious organization and align themselves with hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. Corporate sponsors and individuals should cut them loose. Like other hate groups they should be isolated. Their tax-exempt status should also be revoked. Otherwise we all help fund their discrimitory practices that force kids who want to enjoy the fun of scouting with their friends to lie every day and feel inferior.

    Posted by: terry | Feb 6, 2013 2:06:43 PM

  25. For a group that is basically all male, they surely don't have balls. And as to the Morons excuse me Mormons (and others) writing legal briefs, they should keep their stucky fingers out of civil issues or then lose their tax free status.

    Posted by: saunakarhu | Feb 6, 2013 2:58:12 PM

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