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N.J. Sen. Turns Down Award From Boy Scout Group Citing 'Exclusionary' Policy On Gays

UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A New Jersey state senator decided to forgo an award from a local Boy Scouts group because of the organization's exclusion of openly-gay members.

Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) told 1010 WINS that he withdrew his nomination for an honor from the Patriots Path Council, which includes members from Morris, Sussex, Somerset and Union counties, because he is "troubled" by the Boy Scouts' stance.

"I was grateful for their thoughts and I do respect all the good works that the Boy Scouts have done. I was a Boy Scout as a matter of fact, but I am very troubled by their exclusionary policies towards gay boys," he said.

Lesniak said he is especially concerned about those who might be turned away or "damaged and hurt" by not being accepted.

"It's not their choice, it's who they are and no good can come from them not being accepted for who they are," he said.

The Patriots Path Council reacted to the news Thursday, saying the organization represents "diverse communities" with a "variety of beliefs." They also defended the policy regarding gays and expressed disappointment at the senator's decision.

"While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society. Although we were disappointed to hear about State Senator Lesniak's decision, we fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy," the group said in a statement.

Lesniak, for his part, said he hopes a dialogue can be initiated so that the Boy Scouts can be more inclusive.

"They're a good organization, they do great things, but they could do even greater things if they change their policy and allow gay boys to participate in their activities," Lesniak said.

Just last month, the Boy Scouts reaffirmed their policy of not allowing opening gay boys from membership or gay and lesbian adults from serving in leadership positions.

What do you think of the senator's decision?  Share your thoughts in the comments section...

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