Scouts on the march in Austin as big changes loom

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KVUE

Posted on February 2, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 10:51 AM

AUSTIN — As the Boy Scouts of America reconsider the organization's stance on openly gay leaders, thousands marched to the Texas Capitol for their 64th annual annual Report to State.

"You get exercise, you get to see people, you get to walk. It's pretty fun," said Austin Boy Scout Andy Moe.

The purpose of this stroll down Congess Avenue is for the scouts to get a closer look at how our government works.

Once they arrived at the Capitol, they went into the house chambers and gave a report to Eagle Scout and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The parade also ushers in "Scouting Anniversary Week" for the 103-year-old organization.

The next few days could bring a lot of changes for Boy Scouts.

Leaders of the iconic institution are set to vote on a policy that would potentially let openly gay scouts and scout leaders join the organization.

"That proposal, as we know it right now, would take the responsibility for determining membership eligibility and putting that in the hands of our chartering organizations," said Boy Scouts spokesman Charles Mead. "That's the groups, the civic groups, the churches, the mosques, the temples, the PTAs."

For decades, if a Scout revealed he was gay, he would be kicked out, a policy the organization defended all the way to the Supreme Court.

Mead said the new policy would preserve the same concept as the legal fight, giving Boy Scouts the right to determine its own membership practices.

While several groups have spoken out against the revised policy, many Austin parents said they are okay with it.

"I think it would be a good thing to be a little bit more inclusive," Brian Meyer said. "With the way that society is going and all the things that are changing, it would be better to be more representative of the overall population."

Boy Scout leaders say they will stand behind the decisions made by the communities.

"I think most folks are approaching this from a 'we want to do whatever we do with the benefit of the kids that we serve in mind,' and they'll do and make the best decisions they can," Mead said.

Mead said those decisions will continue to strengthen an organization dedicated to building responsible, resourceful young men.

The Boy Scouts policy could be voted on during a meeting in Irving, which starts Monday.

On Saturday, Gov. Perry said the group should not soften its strict no-gay leaders membership policy.

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