Decision On Gay Scout Leaders To Come By October, Group's Head Says

May 22, 2015
Originally published on May 22, 2015 7:52 pm

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

Robert Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America, tells NPR his organization will have a decision on its ban on gay adults no later than October. His comments come a day after he told the Boy Scouts that a ban on gay adults was "unsustainable."

NPR's Scott Simon asked the former CIA director and former defense secretary whether his comments in Atlanta meant it was now "OK for Scout leaders to be gay?" Here's Gates' reply:

"No we haven't made that decision yet, but what I said was that I believed our present position was unsustainable and that we are going to need to move promptly to re-examine it.

"I think that we will have a decision not later than October, but so far there has been no change. We need to reach out to our sponsoring institutions and talk with them about the potential change. We need to talk with donors and others so there's a process to be gone through here, but I think that it's inevitable that we have to change the policy and that's what I recommended, and we'll see as I say not later than October if the rest of the movement is in agreement with the position. But I think that change is the right thing for our movement."

Gates tells NPR his approach would allow churches that sponsor Scout units to exercise their religious freedom and ensure that leaders in troops they sponsor, or units that they sponsor, reflect the faith of the sponsoring institution.

"There would be a First Amendment protection for their right to do so, but from the National Council's standpoint gays would be permitted in units that want to have them," Gates said.

Some 70 percent of Scout units are sponsored by churches.

In his comments Thursday, Gates told officials in the national organization that the U.S. is changing and "we are increasingly at odds with the legal landscape at both the state and federal levels."

"The one thing we cannot do is put our heads in the sand and pretend this challenge will go away or abate," he said. "Quite the opposite is happening."

The BSA voted in 2013 to allow gay members, but not scoutmasters.

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