In the year 2013, Boy Scouts of America votes to allow gay scouts

Despite this being the 21st century, gay scout leaders will still be banned from the organisation.

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America voted to finally allow openly gay scouts to be members. It did not vote on, and so retained, a ban on openly gay scout leaders, meaning that gay scouts will have no choice but to leave when they turn 18. This is a thing which happened in the year 2013.

The organisation announced that:

The approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.

Boy Scouts of America is a fiercely conservative organisation, retaining a ban on members who are atheist or agnostic (citing the oath that scouts swear to do their "duty to god"), and many members haven't taken well to the news that gay boys can be scouts from the year 2014. The New York Times speaks to one:

Allison Mackey of Hanover, Pa., has five sons — one an Eagle Scout, three now active in scouting and an 8-year-old who had planned to join.

The family has discussed the issue and reached a decision, she said: All the sons were willing to abandon the Boy Scouts if openly gay members are allowed.

“The Boy Scouts are something we’ve really enjoyed because they celebrate manliness and leadership,” she said. But, she added, she and her husband were “looking to encourage our sons in traditional Christian values.”

One commonly-cited reason for the continued existence of the policy is the strong links between Boy Scouts of America and the Mormon church. The church, which the AP reports has more scouting troops than any other religious denomination in America, teaches that same-sex relationships are sinful, and fiercely opposes policies like same-sex marriage. But it has recently eased its attitude towards its gay and lesbian members, advocating a "hate the sin, love the sinner" approach. Mormons are still expected to refrain from homosexual sex, however, and so gay and lesbian mormons are expected to be celibate.

In the end, the support of the Mormon church for the rule change – while emphasising that all sexual activity on the part of scouts goes against expected standards of behaviour – was probably a large chunk of the reason it went ahead. In the year 2013.

Jennifer Tyrrell (L) of Bridgeport, Ohio, speaks at a news conference as Pascal Tessier, 16, of Kensington, Maryland, wipes his eyes. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Hilary Benn has been sacked. What happens now?

Jeremy Corbyn has sacked Hilary Benn, effectively challenging his critics to put up or shut up.

Hilary Benn been sacked from the shadow cabinet, following an article in the Observer reporting that the former shadow foreign secretary had told Labour MPs he would challenge Jeremy Corbyn should Corbyn lose the vote of confidence in his leadership that the PLP are due to discuss on Monday.

Anti-Corbyn plotters are convinced that they have the numbers to pass the no confidence motion in Corbyn’s leadership. Passing that motion, however, would not formally trigger either Corbyn’s resignation or a leadership challenge.

The word from Corbyn’s inner circle is that he would remain in post even if he were to lose the confidence vote, and dare his opponents to collect the 50 names they would need to trigger a leadership challenge.

Should that come about, Corbyn’s allies are certain that they would triumph over whoever ran against him. As one senior source said “they lost really badly in September and that’s not gonna change”.

Labour’s rebels are convinced that they have the numbers necessary to trigger a formal challenge to Corbyn’s leadership.

What happens next is fraught as the relevant clause in Labour’s rulebook is unhelpfully vague: 

“ii. Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of party conference. In this case any nomination must be supported by 20 per cent of the PLP. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.”

The question that no-one is certain of the answer to: whether the challenged leader would have to seek nominations as well or if they would be on the ballot as by right. My understanding is that the legal advice that Corbyn’s critics have is that Corbyn would not automatically have a place on the ballot. But Jolyon Maugham, a lawyer who writes regularly for the New Statesman, looked over the clause for us and believes that he would.

More important than the legal basis, though, is what the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, which would rule on whether Corbyn had to seek nominations to stand, believes.

Although Corbyn has received the backing of 12 of Labour’s affiliated general secretaries, a well-placed source tells me that they are confident the NEC would rule that Corbyn will need to seek nominations if he is to stand again.

But control over the NEC is finely balanced, and could shift decisively towards Corbyn following this year’s elections to the NEC; one reason why Corbyn’s opponents are keen to strike now.

In that situation, Corbyn’s allies believe they can secure the 50 nominations he would need – the threshold has been raised due to a rule change giving Labour members of the European Parliament the same nominating powers as their cousins in Westminster – thanks to a combination of ideological support for Corbyn and pressure from the party’s grassroots. Senior sources believe that once Corbyn reached shouting distance of 50 nominations, the bulk of the shadow cabinet would quickly fall in line. Another estimates that the “vast majority” of the PLP accept Corbyn requires more time and that the plotting is the result of “a rump” of MPs.

But Corbyn’s critics believe that the European result, which saw Labour voters reject the party line in large numbers, has left Labour MPs with large majorities in the party’s ex-industrial seats more spooked by their voters than by their activists, putting them in the same group as those MPs with small majorities. (The two groups who currently pose the biggest danger to Corbyn are MPs who are old enough to be eligible to collect their pension at or before the next election, and MPs with majorities of under 2,000.) 

Who's right? Much depends on the disposition of Labour's 20 MEPs. Prior to Britain's Brexit vote, they were believed to be the most sensitive to the concerns of the party's activists, as Labour members vote on the order of the party's list, making anti-Corbynites vulnerable. Now all 20 MEPs are out of a job at, or before, the next European election regardless, the question is whether they decide to keep Corbyn off the ballot, or try to curry favour with Corbyn's supporters in the membership prior to making a bid for seats at Westminster. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.