SEATTLE - The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to end the organization’s longtime ban on openly gay scouts as local gay rights activists and opponents watched closely.
Supporters of the change rallied outside the Chief Seattle Council Headquarters in Seattle
"I'm glad to be able to stand here today for equality," said Lisa Clise of Woodinville, a volunteer scout leader.
At a meeting in Grapevine, Texas, 1,400 volunteer leaders voted 60 percent to allow openly gay Boy Scouts.
The push for change was led by two leaders from Washington State. Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden is president of the Chief Seattle Council and retired wireless executive Wayne Perry is the national president of the Boy Scouts of America.
"(Perry) is an advocate for this policy," said Jesse Pacem, a member of Scouts for Equality. “I think he worked tirelessly to find a way to move forward and that's what he did."
Josh Clise is a candidate for Eagle Scout and he's thrilled with the decision.
"Some of my friends have gay friends ... they're really missing out and everyone my whole troop just wanted to get them in, but now that it's finally come, they can come join in the troop," Clise said.
Robert Burmeister helps lead a Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop sponsored by the University Presbyterian Church. He enthusiastically supports the change, but believes there will be some backlash.
"I don't think we'll lose the scouts. It will be the parents. And the parents will choose to, maybe choose to pull their sons out of scouting,” said Burmeister.
The battle for equality isn't over yet. The Boy Scouts still ban openly gay adult leaders.
"Now we're going to have Eagle Scouts who are openly gay who can no longer be a part of the organization, so this is one step," said Jesse Pacem of Scouts for Equality. "It's progress, but we also need to make sure adults are included."