Boy Scouts' Gay Ban Challenged from Within

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The Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) long-standing policy that bans gay Scouts and troop leaders from participating in the organization is once again being challenged -- this time, from within.

The Los Angeles Times has reported the group Scouts for Equality, a band of Eagle Scouts, is now challenging the "values-based" organization.

The group's co-founder, Zach Wahls, is an Eagle Scout from Iowa and was raised by two lesbian mothers.

He first gained recognition after making an emotional speech before Iowa state lawmakers regarding same-sex marriage in January 2011.

After going viral, the twenty year old's testimony became one of the top political videos of 2011 and opened the door for TV appearances with Ellen DeGeneres and David Letterman.

Wahls decided to petition the Scout ban after an Ohio mother, Jennifer Tyrrell, was allegedly fired as a volunteer Cub Scout den leader in April because she was a lesbian.

He collected nearly 300,000 signatures after posting the petition on change.org and received an anonymous resolution proposal against the ban.  The resolution would allow local troops to choose whether to admit gay troop leaders and Scouts.

A subcommittee will review and analyze the proposal and the BSA national executive board will vote next May.

Before the formation of Scouts for Equality, Boy Scout officials had already announced that they would examine a resolution which would reverse the policy.

Scout leaders, however, say they don't expect the resolution to pass. If struck down, Wahl, Tyrrell and other supporters say they are prepared to take legal action.

In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Wahls said he and his allies planned a campaign to mobilize opposition to the gay-exclusion policy from within Scout ranks, with the goal of building pressure for the resolution to be approved.

"Up to the day they end this policy, they'll be saying they have no plans to do so," Wahls said. "But there's no question it's costing the Boy Scouts in terms of membership and public support."

The Scouts, who celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2010, have had a long-standing policy promoting traditional, value-based leadership.

Controversy over the policy intensified in 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Scouts to maintain the policy in the face of a legal challenge.

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