Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values, speaks during a prayer vigil at the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas, on Wednesday. The Boy Scouts of America delayed until May a vote on whether to end a controversial ban on gay members.

Irving, Texas - The Boy Scouts of America delayed a vote until May on whether to end a long-standing controversial ban on gay participants, giving a membership deeply divided by the possible change more time to air their concerns.

Board members for the private youth organisation, which turns 103 years old on Friday, had been expected to vote on the matter at a meeting on Wednesday.

The Boy Scouts upheld the ban just last year amid sharp criticism from gay rights groups.

The Boy Scouts touched off fierce lobbying by groups both for and against changing the policy when it said that it was considering removing a national restriction based on sexual orientation and leaving the decision to local chapters.

Even President Barack Obama, who favours lifting the ban, and Texas Governor Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout who supports the ban, weighed in ahead of the Boy Scout's national executive board meeting this week. - Reuters