IRVING, Texas -- Caught in an ideological crossfire, the Boy Scouts of America is retreating until May from a decision about whether to ease its policy of excluding gays. Whatever the organization eventually does, it's likely to anger major constituencies and worsen schisms within Scouting.

The delay, which the Scouts attributed to "the complexity of this issue," was announced yesterday after closed-door deliberations by the BSA's national executive board. Under consideration was a proposal to ease the long-standing ban on gays by allowing sponsors of local troops to decide for themselves on the membership of gay Scouts and adult leaders.

As the board met over three days at a hotel near Dallas, it became clear that the proposal would be unacceptable to large numbers of impassioned Scouting families and advocacy groups on both the left and right. -- AP

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