May 24, 2013 at 10:23 am EST | by Chris Johnson
Obama praises Boy Scouts, but hopes for more change

President Obama praised the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to lift its ban on openly gay youth, but added he hopes the organization will take further action to allow openly gay Scout leaders, according to the White House.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, issued the response to the 103-year-old organization’s decision to end its ban on gay youth on Friday in response to an inquiry from the Washington Blade.

“The President welcomes the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to open its membership to all, regardless of sexual orientation,” Inouye said. “He has long believed that the Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century.”

Inouye continued, “He continues to believe that leadership positions in the Scouts should be open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.”

On Thursday, the 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts National Council approved a resolution to end its ban on gay youth from participating by a margin of 61-38 percent. But the measure leaves in place the ban on openly gay leaders.

Obama’s views on the Boy Scouts’ policy on gay members is particularly significant because, as president of the United States, he also serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts.

Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesperson, responded to the White House by saying the organization continues to appreciate Obama’s support for the organization.

“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training,” Smith said. “We are thankful President Obama recognizes the value of the organization.”

GLAAD praised Obama’s statement.

“As the Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America, this statement on President Obama’s support is significant,” said Rich Ferraro, a GLAAD spokesperson. “Gay parents and adults should be accepted into Scouting and our campaign for change will continue until that happens. As openly gay youth begin participating in Scouting and earn Eagle Rank, the Boy Scouts will come to realize that gay Americans and our families only strengthen Scouting as an institution.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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