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Support grows for gay Scout members

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By The Washington Post
Saturday, May 11, 2013, 8:51 p.m.

A substantial majority of Americans support the Boy Scouts of America's proposal to admit openly gay members, and most oppose the organization's plan to continue to bar openly gay adults from serving as Scout leaders, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The century-old group's National Council will gather this month to vote on the plan, which would allow openly gay boys to be Scouts but would maintain a ban on gay Scout masters.

In splitting the decision, the group may be trying to modernize while continuing to respect a diversity of views on homosexuality — seven in 10 Scout groups are chartered by religious institutions.

In the latest poll, 63 percent of Americans support allowing gay boys to join the Scouts, and 56 percent oppose the ban on gay adults from Boy Scout leadership; 39 percent support the adult ban.

The results contrast with those of a USA Today/Gallup poll last year, in which only 42 percent of respondents said openly gay adults should be able to serve as Scout leaders.

Opposition to banning gay Scout leaders appears to vary by religious group and to follow well-worn political fault lines.

In the Post-ABC poll, 56 percent of Catholics oppose the ban on gay Scout masters. The number in opposition rises to 75 percent among people who identify as atheist, agnostic or no religion.

By contrast, Protestants are closely divided in the poll — 49 percent support and 47 percent oppose the ban on gay Scout leaders.

Partisanship also appears to play a role. In the poll, 68 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents oppose continuing the ban on gay Scout leaders; 61 percent of Republicans support continuing the ban.

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