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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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.