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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Douglas Carswell leaves Ukip to become independent MP

The Clacton MP quits his party but insists he will not rejoin the Conservatives or trigger a by-election. 

Douglas Carswell has long been a Ukip MP in name only. Now he isn't even that. Ukip's sole MP, who defected from the Conservatives in 2014, has announced that he is leaving the party.

Carswell's announcement comes as no great surprise. He has long endured a comically antagonistic relationship with Nigel Farage, who last month demanded his expulsion for the sin of failing to aid his knighthood bid. The Clacton MP's ambition to transform Ukip into a libertarian force, rather than a reactionary one, predictably failed. With the party now often polling in single figures, below the Liberal Democrats, the MP has left a sinking ship (taking £217,000 of opposition funding or "short money" with him). As Carswell acknowledges in his statement, Brexit has deprieved Ukip of its raison d'être.

He writes: "Ukip might not have managed to win many seats in Parliament, but in a way we are the most successful political party in Britain ever. We have achieved what we were established to do – and in doing so we have changed the course of our country's history for the better. Make no mistake; we would not be leaving the EU if it was not for Ukip – and for those remarkable people who founded, supported and sustained our party over that period.

"Our party has prevailed thanks to the heroic efforts of Ukip party members and supporters. You ensured we got a referendum. With your street stalls and leafleting, you helped Vote Leave win the referendum. You should all be given medals for what you helped make happen – and face the future with optimism.

"Like many of you, I switched to Ukip because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving Ukip."

Though Ukip could yet recover if Theresa May disappoints anti-immigration voters, that's not a path that the pro-migration Carswell would wish to pursue. He insists that he has no intention of returning to the Conservatives (and will not trigger a new by-election). "I will simply be the Member of Parliament for Clacton, sitting as an independent."

Carswell's erstwhile Conservative colleagues will no doubt delight in reminding him that he was warned.  

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.