NBC News is reporting that the Boy Scouts of America is close to ending its ban on gay members and leaders.
The exclusive report from Pete Williams says the organization is discussing internally an end to the decades-long ban. It says if the new policy is adopted by the organization, it would represent a big shift for one of Boy Scout of America's most controversial issues.
"The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs," explained Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts' national organization, to NBC News.
Seven months ago, the organization affirmed its ban on gay members, calling it "the best policy for the organization."
According to the NBC News report , the new policy "would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue."
Smith told NBC News that the Boy Scouts would not dictate a position to units, members or parents.
The issue has gone as high as the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2000, the court said the Boy Scouts had a first amendment right of free expression.
The Boys Scouts later released this statement:
"For more than 100 years Scouting's focus has been on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.
"Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families.
"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. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs."