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Great Rivers Council votes in support of gay Boy Scouts membership

Friday, May 17, 2013 | 6:21 p.m. CDT; updated 7:59 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 17, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Great Rivers Council voted 50-28 this week to support a proposed resolution that would allow openly gay youth to join the Boy Scouts.

The National Council of Boy Scouts of America is set to vote on the proposed policy change next week during its annual meeting in Texas. The ban on gay scout masters would remain.

The proposed resolution reads: “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

The Great Rivers Council represents 8,000 youth in 33 counties across central and northeast Missouri. Based on this week's vote, it will take two "yes" votes and one "no" vote on to next week's national meeting.  If the resolution passes, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. 

The council had the option of putting forth the majority vote, meaning all three of the votes would count as "yes", but decided against it. 

"We felt it was a better representation to vote two-to-one since our voters didn't agree," said Doug Callahan, scout executive of the Great Rivers Council.

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released this month, 63 percent of Americans support admitting openly gay scouts. 

The Boy Scouts of America's 280 local councils are divided too with 50.5 percent recommending no policy change, 38.5 percent recommending it and 11 percent taking a neutral stand.

This "Voice of the Scout" survey was sent to more than 1 million adult members earlier this year, and the organization received 200,000 responses.

Not all councils are taking votes in advance of next week's meeting.

Both Greater Saint Louis Area Council and Heart of America Council indicated Friday they will leave the decision to their national delegates.

The local council's votes will join 1,400 others making the decision.

"We want to be transparent and reflect the opinions of as many people as possible and not just the people at top," Callahan said. 


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