The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

February 7, 2013

Boy Scouts delay decision on policy excluding gays

(Continued)

Among those joining the debate was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Eagle Scout who told reporters the ban should be lifted.

"I can't urge them enough to make sure that every young man is eligible, regardless of his orientation, to be a scout and to benefit from a great program that really helps kids develop," he said.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment on the BSA's delay but reiterated President Barack Obama's view that gays should be able to participate in the Scouts.

Members of the Scouts' executive board remained silent about their deliberations during and after their meeting. Police and security guards blocked journalists from entering the meeting area, and board members approached as they walked to their cars outside the hotel declined to comment.

However, it's likely the board — and corporations that contribute to the BSA — will face continued pressure.

By delaying the vote, the Scouts "have guaranteed continuing controversy and increased pressures on corporate sponsors to withdraw funding," said professor Kenneth Sherrill, a gay rights advocate who teaches political science at Hunter College in New York.

No national polling has been released conveying how current Scout parents and leaders feel about the ban. But overall, U.S. voters favor eliminating it by 55 percent to 33 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Quinnipiac said the poll's margin of error was plus/minus 2.3 percentage points.

"Now that the armed forces ban on openly gay service members has been lifted, and polls show increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage, most American voters think it's time to open up the Boy Scouts, too," said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac's Polling Institute.

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