GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) -- The National Council of Boy Scouts of America has voted to open its ranks to gay Scouts. But the new policy will not allow gay Scout leaders.
The policy was approved by 61 percent of the roughly 1,400 voting members who cast ballots in Grapevine, Texas. It will take effect Jan. 1.
The policy doesn't sit well with either side in a bitter debate. Liberal groups, including some churches, support the proposal to accept gay youth, but say the ban on gay adults should also be struck down.
Conservatives, including some church groups, voiced strong opposition. Southern Baptist convention executive committee president Frank Page said, "Homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout oath and Scout law." The Assemblies of God said the new policy "will lead to a mass exodus." And John Stemberger of OnMyHonor.Net charged that BSA officials caved to pressure.
A statement from BSA said it won't sacrifice its mission or allow the organization "to be consumed by a single, divisive and unresolved societal issue."