LDS Church, LGBT group weigh in on Boy Scout vote delay

Posted at 5:28 PM, Feb 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-06 20:50:54-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to delay a vote on whether to allow gay members and leaders within its troops was greeted with relief from one of the nation's largest Boy Scout councils.

"We're really encouraged," said Kay Godfrey of the Great Salt Lake Council of Boy Scouts. "We feel like this is what needed to happen."

The Great Salt Lake Council joined a coalition of 32 other councils across the western United States to demand that the national organization hold off on a vote. On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America said it would wait until May.

"When you talk about 'On my honor I will do my duty to God and to country' and you start talking about moral values and the core on which scouting's foundation is built upon and you start talking about changing some of that ... if it's going to change it needs to be a decision that's acceptable to the institutions that serve scouting," Godfrey told FOX 13 on Wednesday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the largest faith-based sponsor of the Boy Scouts, with more than 39,000 troops and 420,000 scouts. The impact of the national organization's decision would have a significant impact on the future of scouting in Utah.

In 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether or not to allow gay leaders to serve in the Boy Scouts, the LDS Church threatened to withdraw from scouting if it were to happen. The nation's top court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America, as a private organization, had the right to ban homosexuals.

On Wednesday morning, the LDS Church issued a statement about the delay in a vote by saying:

"The Church is following this proposed policy change very closely. We believe the BSA has acted wisely in delaying its decision until all voices can be heard on this important moral issue."

Late Wednesday, the LDS Church issued another statement saying it had made no decision about whether to abandon scouting. You can read the statement in its entirety here.

Valerie Larabee, the executive director of the Utah Pride Center, the largest LGBT organization in the state, said she was disappointed in the LDS Church's statement.

"Religion doesn't make all decisions about morality," she told FOX 13.

The Utah Pride Center said it has launched an online petition to urge the Great Salt Lake Council to reconsider its opposition to allowing gay members and leaders in local troops. She said that delaying a decision would not make the issue go away.

"We have so many corporations and so many municipalities and so many states are acknowledging that discrimination against the gay and transgender community is not where we are in this country anymore," Larabee said Wednesday. "So I think that the delay in this, I'm afraid it's just going to hurt kids."