"I think they're selling out," says local Boy Scout leader - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

"I think they're selling out," says local Boy Scout leader on potential lifting of gay ban

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

If a ban on gay members in the Boy Scouts of America is lifted, national leaders say it would give local organizations the power to decide whether to accept gay members.

One scout leader, David Richards, says he's not changing his position. He's concerned about the potential impact lifting the ban could have on his group.

"Homosexuality, to me, is not an acceptable lifestyle," said Richards.

Richards leads a 10 member Cub Scout group at Shandon Baptist Church.

Richards is disappointed the Boy Scouts is considering lifting its long time ban on gay scouts and leaders. The 64-year-old says it's a rule the organization has fought to hard to uphold, and he wants them to stand firm.

"My problem is I think they're selling out," said Richards.

But not everyone agrees. James Green says change is long overdue.

"Your sexuality has nothing to do with being a leader," said Green.

Twenty-two-year-old Robert Jernigan says the ban is disrespectful.

"It's bigotry," said Jernigan. "To even accept it as a rule is wrong from the beginning."

"If they want to call it bigoted, okay," said Richards. "What's progressive? To me that's changing with the wind. We've got to set and follow a certain standard."

Currently there are 150 Boy Scout groups in the Midlands, according to the local Indian Waters Council of Boy Scouts. Leaders say 60 percent of them are led by faith-based groups.

The new policy would give each local group the option to approve or deny membership. If the ban is lifted, Richards is concerned the national organization's stance may cause his pastor to reconsider supporting his pack.

"It'll be his decision then, and if he says we have to close it, then we have to close it. I'd be sad to see it go," said Richards.

Richards says he plans to discuss the issue with his pastor after the national board makes a decision next week.

Columbia's Indian Waters Council of Boy Scouts released statement about the possible lifting of the ban.

"We are glad that any possible change in national membership restrictions would still allow those local institutions to approve or disapprove leadership, just as they always have," said the statement.

South Carolina Equality also released a statement applauding the organization's discussion of lifting the ban.

"We believe that all those interested in participating in the Boy Scouts, as scouts and as leaders, should be able to do so and that local chapters should be free to set policies of inclusion if they choose. This is a potential moment of great excitement for gay scouts and leaders who have been denied the opportunity to participate because of discriminator policies that may soon come to an end," said the statement.

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