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Robert Gates, the president of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), called on the group’s executives Thursday to end an organization-wide ban on openly gay troop leaders, warning that such a policy “cannot be sustained.”
Speaking at the BSA’s annual meeting in Atlanta, Gates warned that potential legal action and discrimination lawsuits might force the group to change its stance “sooner rather than later” if the Boy Scouts don’t do so voluntarily, the New York Timesreports.
Gates, who is the former Secretary of Defense as well as the former director of the C.I.A., played a role in ending the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which banned openly gay men, women, and bisexuals from joining the armed services.
Gates said that he will still support the right of religious organizations that sponsor local troops to set their own guidelines for leaders.
In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America consisted of 105,161 total units nationwide, staffed by 1,002,351 adult volunteer leaders.
Read more: New York Times