A 103-year-old ban on gay youths joining the Boy Scouts has been lifted following a vote by delegates at the group’s annual general meeting in Grapevine, Texas.
More than 1,400 scout leaders from around the United States voted on the decision, according to the New York Times, with the proposed change garnering the support of more than 60 per cent of voters.
The discussion about whether to the lift the ban on openly gay scout members had been ongoing, with an earlier scheduled vote in February postponed so that 1,400 members could vote in a secret ballot, rather than just the national executive board. The organization’s ban on openly gay leaders remains in place.
The issue has been a divisive one in the organization, as many Boy Scout troops are at least partially funded by Christian groups, which oppose homosexuality. Ahead of today’s vote, opponents and proponents gathered for a rallies in Grapevine in an attempt to sway voters.
The push to allow gay membership had gained some high-profile supporters, including President Barack Obama.
The Mormon church and the Catholic Church — two major sponsors of the Boy Scouts — had said they would not pull support for the organization, as long as the ban was lifted for gay scout members only and did not extend to gay scout leaders.
In March, Canadian pop star Carly Rae Jepsen cancelled a scheduled gig at the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree over the organization’s anti-gay policies. Rock band Train also cancelled a scheduled appearance at the same show.