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Former defense secretary supports gay members as new Scouts' president

By Greg Seaby, CNN
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Sat May 24, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 'I would have supported going further,' the former defense secretary said
  • Gates warned that the issue should not be reopened to avoid divisiveness

Washington (CNN) -- Newly elected Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates on Friday praised the leadership vote last year that welcomed gay youth into scouting.

"In all candor, I would have supported going further, as I did in opening the way for gays to serve in the CIA and in the military," the former secretary of defense said in prepared remarks.

Gates spoke at the Boy Scouts of America annual meeting in Nashville, TN. Gates, who was also director of the CIA was elected president of the BSA on Thursday. He also holds the rank of Eagle Scout.

The Boy Scouts voted in 2013 to include gay youth, but does not allow openly gay adults in the organization.

Gates warned that reopening the issue now could "irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in the movement -- with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own."

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