fight for equality

Thousands of Boy Scouts march in Austin as big changes loom

Thousands of Boy Scouts march in Austin as big changes loom

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The Boy Scouts of America have won several legal battles to keep a ban against gay members but are now reconsidering the exclusionary policy.  Photo by John R. Lewis

KVUE -- As the Boy Scouts reconsider its stance on openly gay leaders, thousands marched to the Texas State Capitol for the annual Report to State.

They came from all over Texas to downtown Austin.

Thousands of boy scouts and a few hundred Heritage Girls marched to the state capitol on Saturday for the 64th annual Report to State.

"You get exercise, you get to see people, you get to walk. It's pretty fun," said Austin Boy Scout Andy Moe.

The purpose of this stroll down Congress Avenue is for the scouts to get a closer look at how our government works.

Once they arrived at the capitol, they went into the house chambers and gave a report to Eagle Scout and Governor Rick Perry.

The parade also ushers in "Scouting Anniversary Week" for the 103-year-old organization.

The upcoming week could bring a lot of changes for Boy Scouts.

Leaders of the iconic institution are set to vote on a policy that would potentially allow openly gay scouts and scout leaders to join the organization.

"That proposal, as we know it right now, would take the responsibility for determining membership eligibility and putting that in the hands of our chartering organizations. That's the groups, the civic groups, the churches, the mosques, the temples, the PTAs," said Boy Scout spokesman Charles Mead.

For decades, if a scout revealed he was gay, he would be kicked out.

A policy the group defended all the way to the Supreme Court.

Mead says the new policy would preserve the same concept as the legal fight, giving Boy Scouts the right to determine its own membership practices.

While several groups have spoken out against the policy, many Austin parents say they are okay with it.

"I think it would be a good thing to be a little bit more inclusive. With the way that society is going and all the things that are changing, it would be better to be more representative of the overall population," said parent Brian Meyer.

And Boy Scout leaders say they will stand behind the decisions made by the communities.

"I think most folks are approaching this from a 'we want to do whatever we do with the benefit of the kids that we serve in mind.' and they'll do and make the best decisions they can," said Mead.

Decisions that Mead says will continue to strengthen an organization dedicated to building responsible, resourceful young men.

The Boy Scouts policy could be voted on during a meeting in Irving, which starts Monday.

Saturday, Gov. Perry said the group should not soften its strict no-gay leaders membership policy.


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