As expected, the Boy Scouts of America announced late Monday night the end of their ban on openly gay troop leaders. The ban's removal will make it so that the organization cannot discriminate against paid members of the organization or those working at "BSA-owned facilities."
At the same, local troops and councils will still be able to decide whether openly gay volunteers are allowed in their organization; church-sponsored scout groups will also continue to be allowed to prohibit gay troop leaders.
The BSA's new policy, as reported by the Associated Press:
Prospective employees of the national organization could no longer be denied a staff position on the basis of sexual orientation.
—Gay leaders who were previously removed from Scouting because of the ban would have the opportunity to reapply for volunteer positions.
—If otherwise qualified, a gay adult would be eligible to serve as a Scoutmaster or unit leader.
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.
“It’s changing the target [of litigation] because now it will be all about the local, not the national,” said Douglas Laycock, a prominent religious liberty scholar at the University of Virginia. “It changes the dynamic a lot. It makes it more informal, less visible.”
The Boy Scouts voted in 2013 to lift their ban on openly gay youth.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.