The high stakes showdown over whether or not Boy Scouts of America will lift its ban on gay youth began in Grapevine, Texas, on Wednesday as the organization dismissed recent allegations that the fix is in.
Deron Smith, national spokesman for the BSA, called allegations of vote tampering "absolutely incorrect" and assured the public that the voting will be managed by independent election services company TrueBallot, Inc.
"The voters of the national council are defined by our bylaws. And the BSA has hired TrueBallot to administer the vote. Voters will be issued credentials and the vote will all happen in one room and validated by TrueBallot," he noted in a recent e-mail to The Christian Post.
Cathy Ruse, senior legal fellow at the Family Research Council, had earlier expressed concerns about the voting process at this week's BSA meeting.
"There are troubling reports of an influx of delegates. Votes at meetings are done by voice votes, this time it will be paper ballots filled out in delegates' hotel rooms and counted by friends of the BSA executive," Ruse charged. She further explained that she was privy to reports that there is a calculated and elaborate push to deceive the organization's 1,400 delegates to support lifting the more than century-old ban on homosexuality.
The move, she argued, is just a roundabout way for gay rights activists to create a window for later legal challenges to the Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000) Supreme Court ruling.
The ruling maintains that the BSA's current membership policy is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment because it explicitly states that homosexuality is inconsistent with the values it seeks to instill. If the BSA adopts the proposed amendments to its membership policy and becomes silent on the issue, it relinquishes not just the right to ban gay youth from the organization but adults as well.
"The Boy Scouts of America does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation, and resolving this complex issue is not the role of the organization, nor may any member use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda," reads the language of the proposed amendment.
"Youth are still developing, learning about themselves and who they are, developing their sense of right and wrong, and understanding their duty to God to live a moral life," the new resolution also states.
Leaders from the Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Anglican, Assemblies of God and other church denominations signed a statement to "strongly support" the BSA's current membership standards.
"We strongly support the Boy Scouts of America current prohibition on open homosexuality and retaining it without revision. Nearly 70 percent of BSA troops are hosted by churches and religious institutions. Upholding traditional morality is vital for sustaining this partnership, for protecting Scout members, and for ensuring BSA has a strong future," they said.
The final vote on BSA's membership policy is scheduled for Thursday.