Alex, a 19-year-old gay Wisconsin Eagle Scout and scoutmaster who didn't want his last name used to protect his privacy, was in a room full of gay advocates in Texas when the vote was announced. He said he watched the faces of gay adult leaders he knew had been kicked out of the organization to see how they reacted.
"Surprisingly, every single one of them was crying tears of joy. We all know and believe this shows — they are going to get there. They will have that equality," he said.
But others strongly criticized the message the split policy would send to gay youths."This is not progressive at all. It will continue to teach the 2.7 million youth members the same toxic message: being gay means you cannot fully participate in the Scouting experience because there is something intrinsically wrong with who you are," James Dale, whose expulsion as a scoutmaster in 1990 led to the Supreme Court case, wrote this week in The Washington Post.
Polls before the vote showed that large swaths of Scouting families, particularly in the South and the Midwest, wanted to keep the total ban. Some religious conservatives — 70 percent of the troops are chartered by a faith-based group such as a church or mosque — said they couldn't reconcile their beliefs with the resolution approved Thursday, which says the Scouts as an organization does not have a position on the subject of sexual orientation.
Rob Schwarzwalder, who is active in Northern Virginia Scouting with his twin 15-year-olds, said he opposed any change in the policy and was likely to keep his sons in for a few months to make Eagle Scout and then leave.
"I don't want my sons to leave my home [when they grow up] thinking, 'Dad was pretty principled except when it mattered,' " he said.