DALLAS -- The Boy Scouts of America made history today by approving a resolution that will allow gay youth to participate, by 61% of the vote.
The new membership standards, which state that "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," will take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. The Boy Scouts' ban on gay adults will remain intact, however.
The decision came after some 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts' National Council converged in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Dallas and Fort Worth, to vote on the resolution during the organization's National Annual Meeting.
GLAAD created a campaign to urge the Boy Scouts of America to end the discriminatory policy, which has been the subject of debate and many legal challenges over the years.
Anticipation was high this afternoon - especially on Twitter - as people awaited the council's decision.
San Diego City Council member Todd Gloria posted this tweet:
In advance of today's vote, I sent a letter to #BoyScouts asking them to stop discriminating against gay scouts & support scouting for all.
Today, GLAAD reported that anti-gay activists from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) presented less than 19,000 signatures to the Boy Scouts of America requesting that they keep its anti-gay membership policy. This is signifcantly less than the 1.8 million presented in a Change.org petition by Scouts for Equality (SFE), urging the organization to lift the ban.
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay.
According to ABC News, in January, the BSA executive committee suggested a plan to give sponsors of local Scout units the option of admitting gays as both youth members and adult leaders or continuing to exclude them. However, the plan won little praise, and the BSA changed course after assessing responses to surveys sent out starting in February to members of the Scouting community.
Of the more than 200,000 leaders, parents and youth members who responded, 61 percent supported the current policy of excluding gays, while 34 percent opposed it. However, most parents of young Scouts, as while as youth members themselves, opposed the ban.
Additional information on how the Boy Scouts will proceed with implementation will be reported as it becomes available.