Ban or No Ban, Will Anything Change for the Boy Scouts of America?

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By Crandall Sims

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- A recent petition handed in to officials at the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas had reportedly 1.4 million signatures in favor of lifing a ban on gays.

But even if those who signed it get their way and the ban is lifted, ABC Columbia found out from a Midlands Scout Executive, there's a chance nothing will actually change.

The Executive board of the Boy Scouts of America is in the middle of a three day meeting regarding the organization's current membership policy that restricts members due to sexual orientation.

"Vowed homosexuals cannot be members of our organization, currently," says Douglas Stone, Scout Executive for the Indian Waters Council 553.

Stone says the policy is being discussed because of varying opinions within the Boy Scouts Organization.

He also says the privately funded institution isn't exactly swayed by outside pressure.

"Frankly, we don't care about outside organizations that want to change perhaps what we're all about," says Stone.

As a whole, 70% of Boy Scout troops nationwide are sponsored by religious organizations of different faiths.

Locally, Stone says the United Methodist Church is the largest sponsor.

This week Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention spoke out against lifting ban on CNN's Starting Point, saying it would be catastrophic.

"1.1 million scouts belong to troops that are sponsored by the Mormon church, by Roman Catholics, by Methodists and by Baptists and overwhelmingly those groups are opposed to this change in policy," says Land.

But not everyone agrees.

"A lot of teenagers, they're going through the process of figuring out what their sexual orientation is.So I think in adding pressure of banning them from social programs, I think is very unfair," says James Oliver, Boy Scout of Irving, Texas.

Even if the board votes to lift the ban, Stone says individual troops can still call rank and keep the current policy.

Tuesday marked the second day of meetings by the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, a decision on whether to keep or lift the ban, could come Wednesday.

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