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July 28, 2015

Boy Scouts Ends Ban on Gay Adults; Mormon Church Protests

The Boy Scouts of America's national executive board voted Monday to revoke the youth organization's ban on participation by openly gay adults but carved out an exception for religiously affiliated troops, Reuters and The New York Times report.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest sponsor of Boy Scouts units, said it was "deeply troubled" by the move and would consider cutting ties with the organization.

The policy shift was approved by 79 percent of board members taking part in the vote and took immediate effect. It bars the 105-year-old nonprofit from discrimination based on sexual orientation in hiring, but troops chartered by religious groups will be allowed to take sexuality into account in choosing volunteer leaders. Faith organizations sponsor about 70 percent of the more than 100,000 Scout units nationwide.

The Boy Scouts lifted a ban on gay youth three years ago but retained a prohibition on homosexual adults. The group's executive committee unanimously recommended ending the adult ban on July 13 at the urging of top scouting officials, including President Robert M. Gates, who said the organization would face a torrent of lawsuits if it did not change the policy.

The Mormon protest appeared to take scouting leaders by surprise, according to the Times. After the executive committee vote, the church had suggested it would remain in the scouting fold if its troops could continue selecting their own leaders.