Activists hail a watershed moment in gay rights movement - KCTV5 News


Kansas City church supports openly gay Boy Scouts

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Many parents of Scouts have voiced their concerns, saying homosexuality goes against the teachings of their faith. But many others find the ban on gays out of sync with the ideals of scouting - and of the nation as a whole.

The Boy Scouts controversy perhaps illustrates where America stands on gay rights.

The possible policy change comes on the heels of mounting pressure from advocacy groups, churches and large corporate donors, and on Sunday, a Kansas City church is pushing for change and an open call to embrace all.

Beyond the sign bearing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender colors, the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ welcomes all Boy Scouts, as they hold hands in prayer.

They are praying that scouting would be an organization open to all people, and that anyone who wish, might experience the organization's lessons.

"Our local church, Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ, as well as our denomination, the United Church of Christ, are fully inclusive of all people," Rev. Chase Peeples said.

The day was named National Boy Scout Sunday for a national call for action.

"We've taken a stand that our church interprets scripture and understands our religion to mean that God loves and welcomes all people," Peeples said.

In recent years, the Boy Scouts of America has come under fire for its exclusion of gays as Boy Scouts and Scout leaders.

Many companies that donated thousands of dollars the Boy Scouts organization began reducing their contributions, mounting pressure now on the organization to make changes.

"To be an Eagle Scout, you have to have a certain number of like Eagle Badges that teach you more about life skills than any other badges," Eagle Scout Addison Jones said.

Jones attends Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ and, for him, having a fellow Scout that is openly gay or an openly gay Scout leader doesn't bother him.

"I don't judge people a whole lot. I just try to work with people and see their (and) what they have to live with," Jones said.

It's a controversial discussion that even Kansas City Mayor Sly James weighed in on.

"I am happy to see the Boys Scouts are considering lifting the ban on gays in Scouts," said James, Speaking before a local scouting group Saturday night. "If we're all seen as equals in God's eyes, then shouldn't we be viewed as equals in groups like the Boy Scouts?"

Peeples agrees.

"We hope that they will make this change because the Boy Scouts of America is an incredible organization that does so much for so many young people," he said. "We want gay young people to be a part of it."

All eyes will be on the Boy Scouts as the world watches and waits to determine what it does.

And if it moves to change its policy nationally, it would give the local organizations the authority to either welcome or exclude gay and bisexual Scouts and Scout leaders.

In a few days, the Boy Scouts will probably make a decision on its national policy. It has indicated that it may very well pass membership decisions to the local level.

In the meantime, the battle lines have been drawn, as they have been for every other hurdle faced by gay rights proponents.

Opponents of gay membership have urged people to contact the Boy Scouts and let their opinions be known. Proponents have done the same.

No one is doubting the importance of this particular fight or the ones coming up in the nation's highest court, but many gay rights proponents are buoyed in their belief that a majority of America now stands with them in achieving equal rights for LGBT people.

For the first time, they feel victory within reach.

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