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Anti, pro-gay groups converge on Boy Scouts of America headquarters

Boy Scouts of America board members are set to take on the organization's national ban on gay membership this week. Groups in support and against the policy have converged on Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Texas, where a vote on the ban is expected Wednesday. 

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Parents are also split on the proposal. Pam Bakowski, the mother of an Eagle Scout and former den leader and Cub master who lives in the Dallas area, said the Boy Scouts were about teaching life skills and leadership.

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"I think the ban is ridiculous and needs to be lifted," Bakowski said.

The mother of an Eagle Scout, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Denise, said she opposed lifting the ban.

"The current policy has worked fine for more than 100 years so there is no reason to change it," she said. "If my son had been in a troop with a gay leader, I would have taken him out."

Lobbying before the vote

The Boy Scouts won a 5-4 US Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that upheld the organization's ban on gays, but it has come under increasing public pressure in recent years from activists.

The faith-based groups that have the most Boy Scouts youth members - the Mormon church, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church in that order - have so far stood by the Scouts.

Many local chapters have said they were waiting for the national board to render a verdict before weighing in, others want board members to take more time to consider a decision.

"We believe that any decision that strikes at the core of our 103-year history merits full input from all stakeholders in deliberation and discussion," The Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement.

Activists on both sides of the issue urged supporters to lobby board members before the meeting and plan demonstrations at Boy Scouts headquarters in Irving, Texas, this week.

"Save our Scouts" plans a prayer vigil in support of the ban for Wednesday morning to coincide with the expected vote.

Activists who support lifting the ban plan to deliver more than 1.4 million signatures from online petition drives toBoy Scouts headquarters on Monday.

 

Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother from Ohio who was ousted as a Scout den leader, and Eric Andresen, whose gay son was denied the award of Eagle Scout - the highest achievement of Scouting - plan to be among activists delivering the signatures.

Two Boy Scouts board members have said publicly they support change. Jim Turley, chairman and chief executive of Ernst & Young, has called for ending the ban and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said he favors change from within and supports diversity. 

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