The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to end its controversial policy banning gay kids and teens from joining one of the nation's most popular youth organizations, ditching membership guidelines that had roiled the group in recent years.

Over 61 percent of Scouting's National Council of 1,232 delegates from across the country voted to lift the ban, BSA officials said. The final tally was 757 yes votes, to 475 no (another 168 delegates did not cast a ballot since they were not present at the meeting). The ban on gay leaders was not voted on and will remain in place. 

"This resolution today dealt with youth. We have not changed our adult membership standards. They have served us well for the last 100 years. Those were not on the table," said Tico Perez, BSA national commissioner.

The policy change will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, "allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units," the BSA said in a statement
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Read it at NBC News.