Bowing to pressure from gay rights groups, the Boy Scouts of America voted Monday to end its longstanding ban on openly gay scout leaders.
But in a compromise that’s likely to only cause more controversy down the road, the Scouts left the decision allows local units sponsored by churches opposed to homosexuality to restrict leadership roles to those “whose beliefs are consistent with their own,” according to USA Today.
The vote came after former Boy Scouts President Robert Gates – the same guy who oversaw the end to the military’s ban on openly gay men and women for President Obama – called for an end to the Scouts’ ban during a national meeting in May.
“I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement,” Gates said at the time, according to the Los Angeles Times.
But while the Scouts’ “religious exemption” was more leeway than the Obama administration is willing to give Catholic nuns who don’t want to pay for birth control, it’s not at all clear it will be enough to keep major religious supporters of the Scouts — like the Mormon church — working with the organization.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote,” the Mormon church said in a statement after the announcement, according to The New York Times.
“When the leadership of the church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with scouting will need to be examined.”
The vote drew an avalanche of social media response, some supportive, some critical, and a good deal of mockery.
@nytimes My Scout Master, in the late ’40s, was gay. We all knew it. None of us gave a damn. I don’t know whether our parents knew.
— Icono Clast (@Icono_Clast) July 28, 2015
More radical leftists, though didn’t think the ruling decision went far enough. They never do, though.
@nytimes welcome to the 21st century, BSA! Of course, you still stopped part way..allowing units to discriminate if they so choose. sigh.
— Keith Angilly (@kkangilly) July 28, 2015
@nytimes About time. Next step: making it illegal to use religious affiliation as an excuse to exclude.
— Stephanie K. Eberle (@FeminiSteph) July 28, 2015
(Don’t think that hasn’t occurred to the White House already, ma’am.)
Vociferous opponents of the change, meanwhile, predicted the decision will bring about exactly what Gates claims to fear — the end of the Scouts in the long run.
— WARY of WAR (@BarefootChris46) July 28, 2015
@nytimes watch enrollment and participation drop to record low levels
— Jeff DiBenedictis (@pcbanker67) July 28, 2015
@nytimes Insurance rates just went up for the Boy Scouts. All it will take is one boy to be touched.. Ban is back on.
— mms.crzy (@Fayelovesmms) July 28, 2015
@nytimes Americans reject this perversion and will no expose our children to this abomination. Boy scouts will ultimately close
— GodBlessAmerica (@GodBlessSouth) July 28, 2015
And, of course, there’s the mockery.
@nytimes I always planned to have my girls in Girl Scouts. Maybe with this change if I have sons I’ll enroll them in Boy Scouts.
— Angela Bentley (@AngelaBentley15) July 28, 2015
@nytimes Will they cut “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight” from the Boy Scout Oath?
— hrumphgrumble (@hrumphgrumble) July 28, 2015
@nytimes Well those are going to be some unusual merit badges…
— Harry Gato (@harrygato) July 28, 2015
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