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Boy Scouts Debate Accepting Gays; Pentagon May Extend Some Benefits

NPR icon by Mark Memmott
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As leaders of the Boy Scouts of America meet in Irving, Texas to consider whether local troops should be allowed to have gay members and leaders, there's breaking news about a related issue:

"The military is poised to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of service members," U.S. officials told The Associated Press Tuesday. According to the wire service, "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has not made a final decision on which benefits will be included, the officials said, but the Pentagon is likely to allow same-sex partners to have access to the on-base commissary and other military subsidized stores, as well as some health and welfare programs."

As The New York Times notes, while Panetta "is preparing to expand benefits to same-sex partners of military personnel ... it remained doubtful that the Pentagon could offer the medical, dental and housing allowances desired by gay and lesbian couples, officials said Tuesday. Full benefits would require the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a 1996 law that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman."

Boy Scouts leaders are expected to issue a statement about their organization's position early Wednesday afternoon. Word broke last week that the organization was considering a lifting of its national ban on gay members and leaders. On Morning Edition, NPR's Kathy Lohr reported about the "passionate debate" that the issue has ignited within the 100-year-old organization.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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