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Boy Scouts Delay Decision About Gays; Pentagon May Extend Some Benefits

Posted: February 6, 2013

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From 'Morning Edition': Kathy Lohr on the Boy Scouts' debate

Two stories about gay rights are breaking: Leaders of the Boy Scouts are debating whether local troops should be allowed to have gay members and leaders; and the Pentagon is reportedly looking to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of military personnel.

A statue outside the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.

A statue outside the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas. Tom Pennington

(We updated the top of this post at 10:45 a.m. ET.)

The Boy Scouts of America now intends to vote in May about whether its troops should be allowed to accept gay members and leaders, a spokesman says.

Deron Smith, the BSA director of public relations, told reporters Wednesday morning at the organization's leadership meeting in Irving, Texas, that "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."

As we noted earlier, BSA leaders were discussing the issue — but weren't necessarily going to make a decision on Wednesday.

Our original post an an earlier update:

As leaders of the Boy Scouts of America meet in Irving, Texas to consider whether local troops should be allowed to have gay members and leaders, there's breaking news about a related issue:

"The military is poised to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of service members," U.S. officials told The Associated Press Tuesday. According to the wire service, "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has not made a final decision on which benefits will be included, the officials said, but the Pentagon is likely to allow same-sex partners to have access to the on-base commissary and other military subsidized stores, as well as some health and welfare programs."

As The New York Times notes, while Panetta "is preparing to expand benefits to same-sex partners of military personnel ... it remained doubtful that the Pentagon could offer the medical, dental and housing allowances desired by gay and lesbian couples, officials said Tuesday. Full benefits would require the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a 1996 law that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman."

Boy Scouts leaders are expected to issue a statement about their organization's position early Wednesday afternoon. Word broke last week that the organization was considering a lifting of its national ban on gay members and leaders. On Morning Edition, NPR's Kathy Lohr reported about the "passionate debate" that the issue has ignited within the 100-year-old organization.

Update at 10:30 a.m. ET. No Vote By Boy Scouts Today:

CNN is reporting that the Boy Scouts' leadership will not be voting on a change in policy today. We're still expecting, as we reported earlier, that the organization will issue a statement at some point today.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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