The board of the Boy Scouts determined it needed more time to consider its policy banning gay people from participating. The board delayed the policy vote until a national meeting scheduled for May. A coalition of faith-based groups pushed for the delay.
The Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday delayed to May a vote on whether to end a longstanding controversial ban on gay participants, giving a membership deeply divided by the possible change more time to air their concerns.
Board members for the private youth organization, which turns 103 years old on Friday, had been expected to vote on the matter at a meeting on Wednesday. The Boy Scouts upheld the ban just last year amid sharp criticism from gay rights groups.
The Boy Scouts touched off fierce lobbying by groups both for and against changing the policy when it said on Jan. 28 that it was considering removing a national restriction based on sexual orientation and leaving the decision to local chapters.
Even President Barack Obama, who favors lifting the ban, and Texas Governor Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout who supports the ban, weighed in ahead of the Boy Scout's national executive board meeting this week near its headquarters in Irving, Texas.
"In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public," the Boy Scouts said in a statement that noted it had considered "extensive dialogue" within the membership and outside comments.
The board has concluded that "due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," the statement added.
The Boy Scouts said the roughly 1,400 voting members of its national council will take action on a membership standards resolution at its national meeting in May.
A coalition of 33 faith-based councils that represent about one-fifth of all youth members in the Boy Scouts had asked the board to delay the vote. Reaction to the delay was swift.