The Boy Scouts Of America is one step closer to ending its longstanding ban on gay adults serving as employees and volunteers.
The National Executive Committee announced Monday it had unanimously approved a resolution last week that would end the ban. The full executive board will vote on the measure on July 27. If it approves it, the ban will be lifted immediately.
"No adult applicant for registration as an employee or non-unit-serving volunteer, who otherwise meets the requirements of the Boy Scouts of America, may be denied registration on the basis of sexual orientation," the resolution states.
The Executive Committee unanimously decided on Friday to adopt the resolution ending the ban, noting the move was "a result of the rapid changes in society and increasing legal challenges at the federal, state, and local levels," the BSA confirmed in a statement to The Huffington Post.
"This is for all intents and purposes a done deal," Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the executive director of the group Scouts for Equality, told HuffPost on Monday.
"It would be unprecedented for the National Executive Board to vote down a unanimous decision by the National Executive Committee," Wahls explained. "That has never happened before."
BSA president and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called for an end to the ban on gay adults during the organization’s annual national meeting in May.
Gates told leaders "we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be" and warned them, "I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement."
The BSA confirmed to The Huffington Post in a statement that the Executive Committee unanimously decided on Friday to adopt the resolution ending the ban, noting the move was "a result of the rapid changes in society and increasing legal challenges at the federal, state, and local levels."
The proposed resolution states that:
No adult applicant for registration as an employee or non-unit-serving volunteer, who otherwise meets the requirements of the Boy Scouts of America, may be denied registration on the basis of sexual orientation.
The resolution does not, however, impact Boy Scouts units chartered by a religious partner.
"This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own,” The BSA told The Huffington Post.
Unlike Girl Scouts units, in which an individual Brownie troop is part of the Girl Scouts national organization, Boy Scouts units are chartered by another non-profit organization, Wahls explained.
“The BSA licenses their intellectual property to that unit. Seventy percent of all Boy Scouts units are chartered -- legally sponsored by -- churches," Wahls said. "This resolution would allow those units, chartered by religions parters, to select their leadership based on their religious principles. American Legion, PTA, others, they don’t have a choice."
“It’s certainly not an ideal policy, but it’s better than it was,” Wahls said, noting that it is significant that the end of the ban affects employment at the organization’s national level.
"The Boy Scouts were effectively the last great civic institution that was still explicitly discriminating against gay adults,” Wahls said. “The resolution, as we understand, would end discrimination of employment with BSA."
The BSA enforced a ban on openly gay youth for 103 years -- until Jan. 1, 2014.
Wahls said the newly proposed resolution allowing gay adults makes for a more consistent organizational policy. “Before, it was that you’re welcome in the organization till you turn 18 -- then you’re gone."
Wahls, who knows exactly how long his organization has been waiting for an end to the adult ban ("three years, one month and one week”) said it happened faster than expected.
“I honestly thought we were in for a 10-year wait,” Wahls said.
Despite the expected end to the gay adult ban, Wahls said there will be plenty of work to do changing hearts and minds.
“Doing away with the ban doesn’t do away with decades of homophobia that has infected BSA,” Wahl said. "We have to make sure they do what they say they’ll do, talk about anti-bullying -- and not just among kids but adults."
Wahl knows a thing or two about changing hearts and minds. In 2011, when he was just 19, he gave a rousing speech before the Iowa House of Representatives that went viral; in it, he praised his upbringing by his lesbian mothers and implored lawmakers not to end civil unions.
As the BSA grows more inclusive, Wahls said organizations like his will eventually shrink -- and he couldn’t be happier.
“We’ll be out of a job, which is great,” Wahls said. "It’s not terribly often that you get to happily say you worked yourself out of a job.”
CORRECTION: This article previously stated that the executive committee approved the resolution Monday, when in fact it announced Monday that it had approved the resolution last week.
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