GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The Boy Scouts of America begin their annual national meeting in Grapevine on Wednesday, and the issue of gay members is front and center at this year’s two-day conference. Scout leaders from all over the country are expected to be in DFW for a historic vote that could change the group’s long-standing ban on allowing openly gay boys to don the Boy Scouts uniform.

Those who support lifting the ban delivered petitions to the organization’s Irving headquarters in February. The last line of the resolution says, “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

But opponents argue that prohibiting open homosexuality is the absolute best policy for the scouts. Conservatives have lobbied strenuously in favor of keeping the current ban, and many within the organization have said that they would leave if that ban is lifted. Critics said that openly gay youths would undermine the scout traditions.

Now, it comes down to a vote by the group’s 1,400 delegates. That action is expected to come on Thursday. If delegates vote to lift the ban, new rules would go into effect on January 1.

The vote does not pertain to openly gay scout leaders — it only addresses youth membership. While gay rights supporters have welcomed the change as a positive first step, they would like the Boy Scouts to lift the ban on gay adults as well.

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