The Boy Scouts of America have voted to allow openly gay scouts. Delegates approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.

FOX News Radio’s Jessica Rosenthal reports:

The Boy Scouts have voted to allow gay members into their ranks.  The Boy Scouts of America say it was adopted with 60% of the vote. Rob Schwarzwalder with the Family Research Council had said that he didn’t think this would happen, mostly because he says a poll of scout members and parents indicated a few months ago that they didn’t want gays in the Boy Scouts. However he still thinks:

Schwarzwalder: “Hundreds of thousands of scouts and their families will leave. The Scouts themselves estimate that up to 400,000 will leave. We think that’s probably modest.”

The BSA’s youth membership is now at about two-point-six million, compared with more than four million at its peak. Heading into this vote, religious institutions were mixed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints supported this and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting didn’t oppose it. But several other conservative religious groups had issued statements begging the BSA to keep the ban on gays.

Those who support lifting the ban are thrilled and say it was bound to happen sooner rather than later. In the year 2000, the Supreme Court sided with the Boy Scouts after they kicked out a gay scout master. This change will not allow gays to serve in adult leadership position.

Read a statement below from the Boy Scouts of America:

“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

“Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization’s long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting’s mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

“Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.

“This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.
“The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.

“While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America’s youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.”