The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to lift its long-standing restriction on openly gay members.

Local Scout leaders voting at the group’s annual meeting in Texas supported the measure by more than 60 percent. The new policy will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

From the Associated Press:

The Boy Scouts of America’s National Council has voted to ease a long-standing ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted as Scouts.

Of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal.

Under the proposal drafted by the Scouts’ governing board, gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders.

The outcome is unlikely to end a bitter debate over the Scouts’ membership policy.

Some conservative churches that sponsor Scout units wanted to continue excluding gay youths, in some cases threatening to defect if the ban were lifted. More liberal Scout leaders — while supporting the proposal to accept gay youth — have made clear they want the ban on gay adults lifted as well.

Here’s an official statement released in April explaining the reasoning behind the group’s desire to shift policy:

The restriction on openly gay members has stood for nearly 103 years. All that changed today.

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Featured image boyscouttrail.com This post has been updated.