Scouts, Parents Protest Lifting of Gay Ban

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Backers of the Boy Scout's current ban on gay scouts held more than 40 rallies across the country to show their support.
    
Friday's demonstrations took place from California to New York to central Florida.

"We are not out to discriminate," Linda Briggs-Harty, a St. Louis-area mother told, the Riverfront Times. "We are talking about open and avowed homosexuality and the risks that come with that kind of shift," she added to the local newspaper.

Boy Scout delegates will decide on May 23 if the ban on gay Scouts stays or goes. It's a vote that could change one of the most influential organizations in the country.

A "yes" vote would likely force thousands of church-sponsored troops to pull out.

The Scout oath inspires youth to honor God, country -- and keep morally straight.  It's why many boys and their parents get involved and why many are so upset about the proposed change.

"I've heard several boys say 'I'm done,' and they'll be within a year of getting their Eagle," Scout mom Cindy Willard said. "And getting your Eagle is a very, very difficult thing to do."

At a minimum, a change to allow openly gay boys would complicate scouting.  Several leaders and parents told CBN News they're not sure how they would accommodate these kids and make the program work.

"What do you do when he turns 18? Let's say he comes in at 14, goes through everything, wonderful Scout, does an Eagle project, turns 18, wants to be a leader and we say, 'Well I'm sorry, you're gay. You cannot be a leader," Bill Milligan, another Scout parent, said.

For Hugh Travis, Scout executive for the Middle Tennessee Council, the proposed change is perhaps his biggest headache. He oversees 35,000 boys and adults in the council, one of several nationwide that has gone public with its opposition.

"I would expect that we'd have to have separate sleeping accommodations for heterosexual Scouts and separate for homosexual Scouts. We'd have to have separate bathing facilities," Travis said.

Nationally, the Boy Scouts of America says the change would be good for scouting because it "acknowledges changes in society" and is "reflective of how our major religious chartered organizations operate." 
 
Faith groups sponsor 70 percent of units nationwide and many, like the Catholic Church and Southern Baptists, say they will not give up core beliefs to stay with the Scouts.

That includes First Baptist in Hendersonville. The potential dilemma is putting families like Marc Carr's in a difficult position. Carr's son is close to becoming an Eagle Scout.

"We certainly want to keep him on that path; however, if this goes through, many churches, especially Southern Baptist and others as well, are going to drop their charters," Carr said.
  
Conservative activist John Stemberger says the loss of such church groups would devastate the organization.

"I think you'll see a mass exodus not only of major denominations but of common sense parents saying, 'We can't trust Scouting anymore.' There's not that moral consistency in the program," Stemberger predicted.
 
For many families, it's a painful time watching the program they value struggle and the sons they love caught in the middle.

"I know for my son, he loves Scouts," Willard said. "We get here early, we never miss a meeting -- he wants to do it all and he's asked me, 'Mom, what do I do?'"

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