Since the late 1970s, the Boy Scouts of America have maintained a policy to exclude gay members and scout leaders from its ranks. In 2000, the Supreme Court upheld the Scouts' decision in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, ruling that the forcing the organization to accept gay members would violate its First Amendment "right of expressive association."
Just last year, the Boy Scouts reaffirmed their ban. In response, hundreds of scouts left the organization, and a number of companies, including UPS, United Way, and the Intel Foundation, dropped their funding.
Now, in an historic shift, the Boy Scouts leadership says they are actively reconsidering their stance on gay members and troop leaders. They could vote on the issue as early as next week.
Journalist Scott Leadingham is a longtime Eagle Scout. He is gay, and believes that the Scouts' virtues outweigh the organization's controversial policies. Former scout Eric Jones would applaud the Scouts acceptance of gay members and troop leaders. When he came out last summer, the Boy Scouts fired Jones from his position as a camp counselor and rescinded his membership.
Scott Leadingham says of the news: "It was extremely surprising, especially given how recently they'd re-affirmed the ban… It seems, though, that the pressures on them to change the policy have just become too large to ignore. I can't imagine they'd want to go forward being on the wrong side of history."