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Boy Scouts meeting on no-gays policy

6:54 AM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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Former Boy Scout leaders and activists on Monday delivered a petition with 1.4 million signatures to the Irving, Texas, headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, urging the organization to end its ban on gay members and leaders.

Scouting executives said they were considering dropping the national ban during a three-day meeting that began Monday. A decision, if there is one, is likely Wednesday, the organization said.

One of the people delivering petitions was Eric Andresen of Moraga, Calif., whose son, Ryan, was denied an Eagle Scout badge last year because he's openly gay.

"The Boy Scouts is an American institution. What it does for young men is incredible," Eric Andresen said. "To exclude a specific group of people just because they're born with a specific sexual orientation is just wrong."

On Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout, told reporters he thought the ban should stay. "I think most people see absolutely no reason to change the position, and neither do I," he said.

On Sunday, President Obama said on CBS that the Boy Scouts should drop the ban. "My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life," he said.

The Scouts' policy seemed to strengthen after a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2000 sided with the organization and allowed the ban. The group reaffirmed the policy last year, but it has faced dwindling membership and corporate supporters who pulled their financial backing because of the anti-gay stand.

Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith issued a statement saying Scouting executives are considering dropping the national ban and leaving the decision up to local units.

"Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs," the statement said. Many Scout packs and troops are sponsored by religious groups that oppose gay membership.

Rick Jervis, USA TODAY

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