Boy Scouts of America poised to lift longstanding ban on homosexual members and leaders

TAMPA - On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

                         -Boy Scout Oath

The morally straight part of the Boy Scout Oath is taken by many to mean "straight" in the contemporary sense.  The scouts have long excluded gay participants and leaders and in 2000,  the Supreme Court has upheld  their right to do so.

But now, after decades of protests and the loss of support from corporations and public institutions no longer  willing to support a discriminatory policy, things are changing.  Next month the National Leadership is expected to vote on whether to drop their ban on gay scouts and scout leaders.  

The parent of a Ryan Andresen, a  scout who was denied his Eagle Scout status for being gay says the change is overdue.

"One of the points of the scout law is you have to be honest.  You have to be trustworthy.  These kids have not been allowed to do that," said Eric Andresen.

The Florida Family Policy Council issued a statement Tuesday saying the policy would devastate the Boy Scouts permanently and should be rejected.

"Homosexuals right now can be in the program. They just need to be quiet about it and not spread their beliefs and whatever it is amongst the scouts. That's the problem" said Florida Family Policy Council Director, John Stemberger.

The policy change, if approved, would leave it up to individual troops, or more likely, their charter organizations to decide whether to open up membership to gay men and boys. Those charters can be corporations, civic groups or most often, churches.

Local churches like Palma Ceia United Methodist and Hyde Park United Methodist sponsor large Boy Scout troops, but they either didn't return our calls, or declined to comment on the possible change.

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