In a statement, he added: "Although we are disappointed to learn of anyone who feels compelled to return his Eagle rank, we respect their right to express an opinion. While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy."
Smith said the BSA has more than 2 million Eagle Scouts, and that 50,000 young men earn the rank each year.
Until recently, Steven Colella, a gay 23-year-old, counted himself among those Eagle Scouts.
The Frederick resident, who earned his Eagle medal in 2006, had been offered a job with the BSA when he heard about its reaffirmation of the ban on gay members.
"It was very much a slap in the face," Colella said. "Instead of taking progressive steps to at least be impartial, if not tolerant, [the BSA took] an active stand against tolerance. In that way, it's hurtful, it's offensive and it's degrading."
Last month, Colella — who has a younger brother who is an Eagle Scout and another working to attain the honor — came out to his parents just before returning his medal to the BSA.
"The Boy Scouts always teach citizenship and leadership and a willingness to be of service to others, but when they come back with a policy that states that they are unwilling to contribute to the development of certain classes of individuals, I think they do a lot of harm to their own message," he said. "Instead of teaching people to be leaders and to be positive members of society, they are teaching them to be discriminatory."
Berman, a partner at the Washington-based firm Covington & Burling, agreed.
He has been married for 40 years, has two sons and three grandchildren. He has been very lucky in life, he said, and Scouting taught him how to be a good person and to appreciate what he has.
Though he loves the BSA, he said, "They had the opportunity to do the right thing and they chose affirmatively to do the wrong thing, and it was enough. Just enough."
Becker said he was inspired to return his medal by people like Berman and the passionate letters they wrote to the BSA.
"I'm not a gay activist, I don't have a ton of gay friends, I'm not out there trying to change the world for homosexuals," he said. "I'm just a regular guy who saw this was out there and thought, 'Get with the program, Scouts.'
"Times are changing, and I think it's pretty cool that this is happening. It's our own little civil rights movement of our generation."
An earlier version gave an incorrect home state for Burke Stansbury. He is from Seattle.