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NEW YORK (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America have ended a blanket ban on gay adult leaders while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion because of their faith.

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The new policy, aimed at easing a controversy that embroiled the Boy Scouts for years and threatened the organization with lawsuits, takes effect immediately. It was approved Monday by the BSA’s 80-member National Executive Board in a teleconference.

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The stage had been set for Monday’s action on May 21, when the BSA’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, told the Scouts’ national meeting that the long-standing ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable. He said the ban was likely to be the target of lawsuits that the Scouts were likely to lose.

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