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Scouting leaders focused on Jamboree, not gay vote


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Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, an activist raised by lesbian mothers in Iowa, is executive director of Scouts for Equality, a group he started last summer whose membership has grown to more than 15,000.

Wahls said despite the policy change, "99 things out of 100 will continue to be the same for the Boy Scouts of America. And I think it’s important for everybody to remember that. As far as our expectations, we hope it’s a great Jamboree."

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John Stemberger, a conservative activist and former Scout from Florida who led a group opposing the policy change, said he expects to see openly gay activism at the Jamboree. He questioned how leaders will handle the issue of tenting of "boys who openly announce their attraction to other boys."

Stemberger founded a national coalition of parents, Scoutmasters, Eagle Scouts, donors and other BSA members working to create an alternative program to the Boy Scouts.

"For many of our members, this will be the last scouting event they attend before resigning from the BSA," he wrote in an email.

At an annual meeting in Houston last month, the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution expressing its opposition to the new policy allowing gay Scouts, but it didn’t explicitly call for churches to drop all ties with the organization.

"In terms of the Jamboree and summer activities ... really at this point nothing has changed," said Roger Oldham, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention. "Nobody should have concerns about (openly gay Scouts) at this year’s Jamboree because the membership policy has not changed."

Associated Press writer Michael Felberbaum in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.




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