Former Ky. Boy Scout leader at center of debate over ban on gays

IRVING, Texas (WKYT) - National debate is surging, as the Boy Scouts of America organization considers ending its ban on openly gay members and leaders.

The possible move is being discussed by the Scouts' National Executive Board this week in Irving, Texas. The proposal would leave the ultimate decision in the hands of individual troops.

Greg Bourke's son Isaiah joined the cub scouts in the second grade. Bourke eventually became assistant scoutmaster of his son's Boy Scout troop in Louisville.

"After decades of being out of the closet, the Boy Scouts of America forced me back into the closet with its don't ask don't tell policy," said Bourke.

Now in high school, Isaiah's on the verge of becoming an Eagle Scout. But his dad has lost his rank, because he's gay.

"I pose no harm to anyone. I passed all their background checks. I go to church every sunday with my family. Lord knows we're philanthropic. I just don't know what else they want from us," said Bourke.

Scouts and others who support ending the policy of barring openly gay scoutmasters and scouts delivered what they say are 1.4 million signatures on several online petitions to Boy Scout headquarters.

In a statement, the Boy Scouts of America says it "is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.... the policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver scouting to determine how to address this issue. the boy scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."

President Obama told CBS News before the Super Bowl he supports dropping the restriction on gays.

"Ihe scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to, you know, opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives, and I think that nobody should be barred (from) that," said Obama.

Rick Perry, governor of the Boy Scouts' home state of Texas, is opposed.

"Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life lessons. Sexuality is not one of them. it has never been and doesn't need to be," said Perry.

But the Boy Scouts are under pressure from declining membership and from the loss of funding from corporate donors with non-discrimination policies.

The organization's national leadership began its three-day meeting Monday.

Activists both for and against the policy change say they expect a decision Wednesday.

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