The Boy Scouts of America has made their biggest change to date. The organization voted Monday to end its decades-long ban on gay scout leaders, with the decision being approved by over 3/4 of the national executive board. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Scouting’s current president stated,

“For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us. Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good in a community and in the lives of its youth members.”

Although this is a big step that is effective immediately, the report states local scouting units retain the ability to reject gay applicants for leadership positions if hiring them would violate the unit’s religious beliefs. A statement from the Scout’s leaderships explains,

“This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered by organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families.”

Congrats to the Boy Scouts of America on this step forward as well as the leaders that will now be able to be apart of the Scouts.

Image: Via Flickr/Melvin Mason