Reaction from scouting supporters ranged from outrage to limited approval. The biggest organization in scouts, the Mormon Church, said it was studying the proposal, leaving uncertain the outcome of a May vote by scout leaders that will set policy. Gay rights groups said continuing to bar gay adults was unacceptable, but they welcomed the change for youths.
“The general feeling is that this is a bad move,” which could precipitate a major crisis, A.J. Smith, president of the Association of Baptists for Scouting, wrote in a website post, attempting to summarize Baptists’ views. “This is about a concerted effort to bring down a cultural icon. We must brace ourselves for the long haul on this one.”
The scouts’ decision is a focal point of a heated gay rights debate in the United States, where polls show public opinion is fast moving toward greater acceptance and a core of social conservatives stridently oppose such change.
In the coming months, the Supreme Court will rule on whether to strike down parts of a federal law that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman. In 2011, the military repealed a ban on openly gay soldiers.
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