(CNSNews.com) - The Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday decided to delay taking any action on a resolution to allow homosexuals to become scout masters and scouts until its national meeting in May.
“After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy,” the organization said in a statement Wednesday.
A vote had been scheduled today at Scout headquarters in suburban Dallas.
Kay Godfrey, communications director for the Greater Salt Lake Council in Utah told CNSNews.com that his council – one of Scouting’s largest – had asked the national council to delay the decision and is pleased at the decision to postpone the vote.
“I think a lot of councils across the country had requested that,” Godfrey said. “We’re one of many that had asked them to delay their decision hoping for some sort of forum to understand what’s taken place these last few days, and perhaps be given an opportunity, or an invitation to engage in discussion on this subject down the road. So we’re one of many.”
Last week, the national Scout organization said it would consider changing its membership policy to allow local scout councils to admit homosexuals as scouts and scoutmasters.
But Godfrey said the national scout council had decided in July of last year to keep the Scout membership policy the same, after a two-year study on the issue.
“The results of that study were that 88 percent of those that were polled wanted to have the standards of the Boy Scouts membership policy remain in tact,” Godfrey told CNSNEws.com.
“So this comes as a little bit of a surprise to see them want to change something in such a short period of time,” he said.
The Great Salt Lake Council has more than 5,000 Scout units with 73,000 Scouts and 31,000 adult volunteers.
“Most of those units that we have sponsored along the Wasatch in the state of Utah are sponsored by religious denominations, and they are the ones that have been most outspoken with regards to a change,” he said. “We’ll have to see how they respond to this."
Godfrey said his council is hoping that local institutions that sponsor troops, like churches, will be patient, so that they can express their views.
“Councils are formed to support local institutions who use the program for their youth and we have that responsibility to voice their feelings, and the time to do that with. So that needs to happen.”
Gay activists who have been pushing for a change in Scout policy decried the delay.
“A scout is supposed to be brave, and the Boy Scouts failed to be brave today," said lesbian Jennifer Tyrrell, a former Cub Scout leader who was in Dallas on Monday to deliver petitions to the Scouts calling for a change in the membership policy.
“The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they've failed us yet again. No parent should have to look their child in the eye and explain that the Boy Scouts don't want us.”
But Godfrey said that whatever decision is made needs to be broad-based in support.
“We want to be involved in the discussion, as I’m sure all councils do,” Godfrey said.
“We think it is very important that on a discussion of this nature that is so historic in nature, that all stakeholders are involved in this, that it isn’t driven by just a few individuals. That the final decision will be a decision that’s had an awful lot of thought and a lot of input. That’s what we’re hoping for.”
Godfrey said his council had received thousands of e-mails and calls in support of keeping the current policy intact, which the council has forwarded to the national office.
Nationwide, the Boy Scouts of America has over 2 million members.