For the first time in 22 years, openly gay members will be allowed to join the Boy Scouts. Leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted 61 percent in favor of eliminating sexual orientation as criteria for youth membership.
The historic vote was made this Thursday afternoon at a meeting of the national council in Grapevine, Texas.
Former Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna was in Texas and led the Washington delegation. McKenna is an eagle scout. He says Washington and other Pacific Northwest delegations supported the vote.
"You know, it’s the right thing to do and I think that everyone in our council will breathe a sigh of relief," said McKenna. "There are going to be a few who are unhappy, some people who hold deeply held convictions, and they may pull their kids out. If they do that’s a real shame."
Some conservative churches that supported the ban threatened to pull their sponsorship of troops if the ban were lifted. Under the proposal drafted by the Scouts' governing board, gay adults will still be forbidden from serving as Scout leaders.
McKenna favors allowing gay leaders into the organization and says, it’s just a matter of time.
"You know, we’ll step back and absorb this change and all the good things that will come out of it and then figure out the timing on the next step," said McKenna.
There are more than 100,000 Scout troops in the United States with 2.6 million members.