Boy Scouts, Parents Hold National Rallies to Protest Lifting Gay Ban

Those supporting the continued ban on openly gay members in the Boy Scouts are gathering in over 50 locations throughout America Friday to express their concern, as the youth organization will vote next week on whether to lift the ban.

Friday's nationwide rallies, held at noon in several U.S. cities, were organized by, an online coalition of parents, Boy Scouts, and Scout leaders in favor of maintaining current membership policies.

One rally in the Silver Spring Township of Pennsylvania reportedly attracted two dozen attendees and included speeches from an Eagle Scout, a scoutmaster and the mother of eagle scout who encouraged those in attendance to not "compromise their values" and encouraged their delegates attending the Boy Scouts national meeting in Texas next week to cast their vote against lifting the gay ban.

"We'll have to quit scouting if they vote for this new resolution," Allison Mackey, who organized the rally on behalf of the New Birth of Freedom Council, told The Sentinel.

Other major rallies took place Friday at the Boy Scouts headquarters in Fort Wayne, Ind., and at the Greater St. Louis Area Council for the Boy Scouts in Missouri, among other places.

Linda Briggs-Harty, a St. Louis-area mother attending the local rally, told the Riverfront Times that she and others opposing the policy change are not being discriminatory, but simply trying to avoid the risks that could come with openly homosexual members joining the youth organization.

"We are not out to discriminate," Briggs-Harty told the Riverfront Times.

"We are talking about open and avowed homosexuality and the risks that come with that kind of shift," she added to the local newspaper.

Former St. Charles County Executive Joe Ortwerth, who is now the executive director with the Missouri Family Policy Center, told CBS St. Louis at the local rally Friday that he believes changing the membership policy does not coincide with the group's traditional morals.

"The Boy Scouts have always been about duty to God and country," Ortwerth told the local station, adding that to him, being a Boy Scout is "about being clean and reverent, being people of integrity, and sexual integrity is part of that."

The upcoming vote regarding the Boy Scouts gay ban has been highly debated.

When the century-old youth organization announced months ago that it would consider lifting its ban on openly gay members, 41 organizations, including pro-traditional family group Focus on the Family, joined forces in protest.

Conversely, a new poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News recently showed that the majority of Americans, 63 percent, are in support of the Boy Scouts repealing the gay ban.

Additionally, President Barack Obama has come out in support of changing the policy, telling CBS in February that his "attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life."

Next Thursday, about 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts of America's national council will gather at their annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, to vote on a resolution which would revise the youth organization's membership policy to allow "open or avowed" homosexuals to join the organization.

Openly gay adults would still be banned from leading Boy Scouts troops.

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