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The Boy Scouts of America Cradle of Liberty Council voted unanimously this week to accept gay adult volunteers and employees into the organization.

Since 2013, Scouting councils across the country have accepted gay youth, but only a handful have accepted gay adults.

Cradle's new membership and employment policy goes into effect immediately, said James M. Papada, president of Cradle.

He said about 30 people attended Cradle's board of directors meeting on June 19, when the vote was taken.

"We're just prepared to go forward and hopefully be friends with everybody and be as inclusive as we can," Papada told PGN.

He said Cradle has 75 employees and 5,000 volunteers who serve about 15,000 youth in Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware counties.

Papada said the public response to Cradle's action has been mostly favorable. "We've only had one negative call so far," he said.

Papada said he doesn't expect any negative repercussions from national BSA leaders.

"We informed senior executives of the BSA that we intended to put the matter before our board for its decision," Papada said. "They just thanked us for calling and had no other substantive response."

He said recent comments by BSA president Robert Gates in favor of easing membership and employment restrictions prompted Cradle's action.

"My understanding is that there will no repercussions if a local council accepts LGBT adults who are otherwise qualified," Papada noted.

Cradle is headquartered in Treddyfrin Twp., but it was formerly headquartered in a city-owned building on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Cradle left the building about two years ago, after declining to sign a city lease with comprehensive antibias language.

Papada said Cradle has no intention of returning to the building.

"We have other ways of being involved in Philadelphia without being present in that building," he said. "It's a very nice building. And it has tremendous historical and emotional significance. But we don't have a day-to-day use for it."

Greg M. Lattera was ejected from Cradle about 12 years ago, after coming out as a gay Life Scout. He's currently employed as a firefighter in a suburb of Pittsburgh.

Lattera said he would have avoided "a lot of heartache" if Cradle took its LGBT-equity action 12 years ago.

"I just hope they stick to their guns," he said. "I'd also appreciate a honorary membership in Cradle, because they unjustly removed me. I just think it would be the honorable thing to do."

Papada declined to comment on Lattera's request for an honorary membership.

Papada also said a mechanism is in place to field antibias complaints at Cradle.

"If members of the LGBT community come out and feel they've been wrongly treated, they can register their complaint, and there's a mechanism in place to deal with it," he said.