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updated: 5/24/2014 10:19 AM

Gates says he'd have allowed gay adults in Scouts

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  • The Banjocats perform during the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting on Friday, May 23, in Nashville, Tenn. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates was selected as the organization's new president and is taking over one of the nation's largest youth organizations as it fights a membership decline and debates its policy toward gays.

      The Banjocats perform during the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting on Friday, May 23, in Nashville, Tenn. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates was selected as the organization's new president and is taking over one of the nation's largest youth organizations as it fights a membership decline and debates its policy toward gays.
    Associated Press

  • Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates looks at the standing ovation by the audience after addressing the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting on Friday, May 23, in Nashville, Tenn., after being selected as the organization's new president. Gates is taking over one of the nation's largest youth organizations as it fights a membership decline and debates its policy toward gays.

      Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates looks at the standing ovation by the audience after addressing the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting on Friday, May 23, in Nashville, Tenn., after being selected as the organization's new president. Gates is taking over one of the nation's largest youth organizations as it fights a membership decline and debates its policy toward gays.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

DALLAS -- Robert Gates, the new president of the Boy Scouts of America, says he would have moved further than the youth organization last year and admitted openly gay adults.

But he won't support any attempts now to change the policy.

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Gates took the helm this week of a group that serves about 2.5 million youth nationwide but faces continued membership declines and fights over its inclusion of openly gay boys, but not adults.

He told The Associated Press Friday that he "was prepared to go further than the decision that was made," but respects it and won't try to change it.

He says moving further now would ignite a debate that could threaten Scouting's existence.

The 70-year-old Gates was secretary of defense under two presidents and CIA director.

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