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Cook County, Ill., delays Boy Scout vote

Cook County, Ill., delays Boy Scout vote

Cook County, Ill., officials delayed their vote on an agreement with the Chicago-area Council of Boy Scouts after concerns were raised about the organization's ban on gay troop leaders. The agreement would give the organization use of a campground located in a forest preserve southwest of Chicago through 2028. It was expected to be approved Wednesday, but Cook County board president John Stroger postponed a vote on the contract after county commissioner Mike Quigley contended that the Boy Scouts' ban violates the county's human rights ordinance. Quigley also disputed the arrangement because it would close the campsite to the public. "It really strikes against two things we care about: the open use of our forest preserves and the fact that we don't feel it's appropriate to discriminate against anyone," Quigley said. Stroger sent the proposal to a committee for further discussion. "I want the world to know that as a former Boy Scout and a former vice president of the Chicago-area Boy Scouts for many years...I personally will be for this motion," Stroger said. "But I think that every commissioner has a right to make his or her own decision." The agreement would grant the Boy Scouts exclusive use of Camp Kiwanis in Willow Springs for the next 25 years. In exchange, the organization says, it will make $250,000 worth of improvements to the campground. The Boy Scouts has used the camp in the past, but a previous agreement with the county ended in 1993. Boy Scouts spokeswoman Rebecca Fields said the group intends to use the camp for weekend outings and as a day camp. While the general public would not be allowed to use the camp if the deal is approved, the Boy Scouts says it will allow others to use it when scouts are not there. "It would not be exclusively ours, and no group would be turned away," Fields said.

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