(Photo: Reuters/Jason Reed)
Former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Robert Gates has been nominated to become the next president of the Boy Scouts of America, pending his approval by voting members of the National Council. If elected, Gates would assume his new role in May 2014.
The BSA announced Wednesday that Gates, an Eagle Scout, was elected to the National Executive Board, and if his nomination is approved, he would serve a two-year term as the organization's president.
"Gates' appointment was made upon the recommendation of national volunteer and professional leaders including the BSA national nominating committee," the organization said in the statement.
The announcement comes after a controversial decision made by 1,400 delegates of the BSA who voted in May to adopt an amendment that effectively lifts the ban on openly-homosexual youth in the organization, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Sixty-one percent of the delegates voted in favor of the resolution, while 39 percent voted against it at the organization's national annual meeting that was held in Grapevine, Texas.
The BSA's policy states that: "No youth may be denied membership in the BSA on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."
According to the BSA, Gates will lead the National Executive Board, which guides the Boy Scouts of America as it serves approximately 2.6 million youth members.
Those numbers might drop, however, as churches begin to announce their decision to stop sponsoring Boy Scout troops, and the Southern Baptist Convention's resolution that passed in June, which states that the BSA's policy change conflicts with their religious and moral beliefs that Christians should oppose all forms of sexual immorality, "including adultery, homosexuality and pornography."
Similarly, in September, more than 1,200 former BSA officials, parents and youth representing 44 states launched the new Christian-based scouting organization, Trail Life USA as an alternative to the BSA.
Gates, 70, has served the U.S. government under eight presidents, including head of the CIA from 1991 to 1993, and as Defense Secretary under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
As Defense Secretary, Gates supported Obama's withdrawal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, Reuters reports.
In the BSA, Gates served as a past member of the National Executive Board and past president of the National Eagle Scout Association.
As a youth in scouting, Gates received several BSA honors, including distinguished Eagle Scout, the Silver Buffalo Award, which is the highest commendation given by the BSA for extraordinary service to youth, and a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, the highest mark of distinction and recognition for those with exceptional service and unselfish interests.
Speaking about his potential leadership role in the BSA, Gates said: "There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America. As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today-an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today's youth."