(Reuters) - The Boy Scouts of America on Friday proposed to lift a ban on gay scouts but to continue prohibiting gay adults from participating in the hundred-year-old American institution.
Key donors and supporters, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - the Mormons - and AT&T did not immediately take a position on the proposal, while gay rights groups said continuing to bar gay adults was unacceptable, thought they welcomed the change for youths.
Scout leaders in May will vote on the proposal, which would be a sweeping change for an institution that in 2000 won a Supreme Court battle over its right to exclude gays.
The BSA's decision is one of the focal points of a broad gay rights debate in the United States. In the coming months, the Supreme Court will rule on whether to strike down parts of a federal law that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman, and in 2011, a the military repealed a ban on gays serving openly.
Public opinion polls show rising support for gay rights, but there is still a strong social conservative movement opposing acceptance of gays in institutions like marriage.
The Boy Scouts proposal reflects the complexity of compromises - it would create a situation where a gay youth could become a Scout and then be forced to resign when he becomes an adult.
If the resolution is approved, "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," Deron Smith, the organization's spokesman, told Reuters.
But the policy is not changed for adults, the group said, and an internal document obtained by Reuters says that when youth members become adults, then they "must meet the requirements of our adult standards" to remain in the group. Continue reading via Reuters...