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Petaluma Eagle Scout reacts to Boy Scout's shift on gays

The proposed lifting of a national ban preventing gays from openly participating in Boy Scouts is drawing cheers, but also concern, among those in the North Bay who for years have fought for such change.

"I don't think it's enough, but I do think it's a start. At least they (the Boy Scouts of America) won't be forcing everybody to discriminate," said Petaluma's Steven Cozza, an Eagle Scout who has waged a decades-long campaign to have the ban removed.

Under the proposal being considered next week by Scouting's national executive board, churches, civic groups and other organizations that sponsor Boy Scout troops could decide for themselves whether to allow gay Scouts and leaders.

Supporters say the new policy would give troops the flexibility to make rules based on their social, religious and philosophical beliefs. There are 127 troops and Explorer units, and 2,380 Boy Scouts, in the Redwood Empire Council, which spans Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

"It's an appropriate way to transition into it," Herb Williams, the council's president, said of the proposed changes.

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