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Former Eagle Scout returns medal to protest gay decision

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OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

Strong feelings are running high one day after the Boy Scouts of America reversed its policy on gay scouts. The decision upset one Kansas City man so much that he decided to make a very personal protest.

The change is big and emotional for one former Eagle Scout.

"I can't in good conscious represent the Scouts anymore as an Eagle Scout," Blaine Freidline said.

Freidline - a Scout for 40 years, starting when he was 8 years old - is sending back his Eagle Scout medal.

"Because of the abandonment I see of the basic values, transcendent God-given, Bible-based values the Scouts have been based on for more than a century," he explained. "It's a matter of what's right and wrong. I think God would have us respect all people, regardless of their sin. We're all sinners, but it's an issue of right and wrong and I think they've come down on the side of wrong. I can't support that."

Thursday, the Boy Scouts National Council voted to stop exclusion of members based on sexuality.

"I've been communicating with the national council. I expressed my opinion on what they were thinking about doing. I'd hoped it wouldn't come down to this, but it has, so I feel like in good conscience I have to take this action," Freidline said.

He said scouting taught him leadership, character values and camaraderie with fellow scouts. While they are things he believes every young man should have the chance to learn, he still takes issue with the decision.

"The issue is those that have same-sex desires, homosexual desires, they need help to work through that, not that it's an okay way to live. I don't think it will serve those individuals well to think that that's a right way to live," Freidline said.

Jason Boyer, also an Eagle Scout, disagrees. He worked at a scout camp at Lake Jacomo, MO, until he came out.

"I think they could go a lot farther because they're still telling all these kids that they're bad. They're telling them, ‘as soon as you turn 18, you're no longer good enough' so I still think they have some ways to go, but they're making progress," Boyer said.

The Heart of America Council told KCTV5 Justin Schmidt off-camera they have received feedback from their scouts and leaders both for and against allowing gay scouts. A spokesperson also said in the last 33 years, they've never kicked anyone out or denied membership to a scout based on sexual preference.

The new rule goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

Gay rights groups said they'll continue to fight to get the Boy Scouts of America to reverse their ban on adult gay leaders.

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