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WH: Obama opposes Boy Scouts' policy barring gays, won't step down as honorary president

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Cub Scout Raphael Cash from Bowie, Md., prior to a meeting with a group of Boy Scouts of America youth members and executive leaders in the Oval Office, July 12, 2010. ficial White House Photo by Pete Souza

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - The White House affirmed on Wednesday that President Obama opposes the Boy Scouts' policy barring gay scouts and scoutmasters. But he has no intention of stepping down as the organization's honorary president, a White House spokesman tells CBS News.

After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America last month reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays from participation as members or leaders.

Mr. Obama has yet to personally offer any public comment on the action, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told CBS News that the president "opposes discrimination in all forms," including the Boy Scouts policy that "discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation."

Carney made it clear, however, that Mr. Obama will not resign from the organization as its honorary president, though a gay rights group has urged him to do so.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has called on Pres Obama to "reconsider" his role as honorary president of the Scouts, citing the group's policy of discrimination.

The Boy Scouts of America says every U.S. President since 1910 has served as its honorary president during his term in office.

Carney told CBS News that despite the group's policy of discrimination, Mr. Obama believes the Boy Scouts "is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century."

Because the president is declining to abdicate his honorary role with the organization, Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, urges him to use his leadership to help the Scouts "evolve" on the issue of gay participation.

"He is in a unique position to do so, as someone who has had his own evolution on issues related to marriage equality," said Nipper.

Mitt Romney is on record supporting "the right of the Boy Scouts of America" to decide its own policy on barring gays from participation.

At the same time, Romney has said he feels "all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation."