The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) unanimously approved a resolution last week to end the organization's historic ban on gay adults working as leaders. However, individual Scout troops will be permitted to set their own policy on leaders, allowing church-sponsored troops to uphold the ban.
"This resolution will allow chartered organizations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing Scouting's longstanding policy of chartered organizations selecting their leaders," the Boy Scouts said in a statement Monday.
"This change allows Scouting's members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families. This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own," it read.
BSA's leaders said in a memo sent nationwide on Monday that the organization "rejects any interference with or condemnation of the diverse beliefs of chartering organizations on matters of marriage, family, and sexuality," highlighting its commitment to granting exemptions for church-sponsored scouts.
According to CNN, the national executive board is expected to meet to ratify the resolution on July 27.
In May, BSA president and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates publicly announced that a ban on openly gay leaders was no longer sustainable for the organization and referenced the then-impending Supreme Court decision on gay marriage as a significant basis for changing the organization's current policy as well as cultural and legal shifts.
"I am not asking the national board for any action to change our current policy at this meeting," Gates told members back then. "But I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to presidents when I was director of the CIA and secretary of defense. We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be."
He added: "We can act on our own or be forced to act. But either way, I suspect we do not have a lot of time."
Two years ago, the organization sparked controversy after it decided to allow openly gay Scouts. In April 2015, the group revealed it had hired the first openly gay Eagle Scout, Pascal Tessier, 18, to work as a camp leader this summer.
At the time, Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, took to Facebook to encourage Christians to re-consider their support of the organization.
"Robert Gates, shame on you for not having the moral courage to do what is right, Graham wrote. "We shouldn't shift as the winds of cultural change blow through society; we need to stand for God's truth and things that are morally right. This move is bending to LGBT activist groups and would put young, innocent boys at risk." The 62-year-old evangelist continued, "I encourage every former Boy Scout and every parent involved in the Boy Scouts to let Robert Gates know how displeased you are and that if he leads the organization down this road, they may lose your support, your participation--and your sons."