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Valero, other corporations, giving big to Boy Scouts despite anti-gay policies

Photo: Photo illustration by Chuck Kerr, License: N/A

Photo illustration by Chuck Kerr



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Corporate foundations have given millions to the Boy Scouts of America and its subdivisions in recent years despite that organization's policy of excluding gays and lesbians. Many of those same foundations have policies against giving to organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Twenty-three of the top 50 corporate foundations, ranked by the Foundation Center in terms of total charitable giving, gave at least $10,000 each to the Boy Scouts in 2010, the most recent year for which data was available for most companies. Combined, they gave about $3.6 million.

Many household names are among the donors. The Intel Foundation gave the most — about $700,000 in 2010. The Verizon Foundation donated more than $300,000, and big banks — such as Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and Bank of America — each gave more than $100,000. Most of the corporate foundations refused to give definitive answers about whether they would continue supporting the Boy Scouts in the wake of the organization's announcement that it would maintain its exclusionary policy. But one company, UPS, told The American Independent that the policy would not impact its donations to the Boy Scouts, which totaled close to $167,000 in 2010.

On July 17, the national Boy Scouts executive committee announced that a secret 11-member committee had decided to reaffirm the group's exclusion of "homosexuals." That group had been meeting since 2010.

The policy that was reaffirmed states: "While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."

The Boy Scouts have been kicking gay members out of the organization since at least the late-1970s. In 1978, the group formalized its ban on allowing gays to have leadership positions in the scouts. "We do not believe that homosexuality and leadership in Scouting are appropriate," the policy stated.

The Boy Scouts reiterated the policy in 1991 after a gay scout in New Jersey came out on local television. That young man, James Dale, later sued the organization for discrimination, a case the Boy Scouts won at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. In a 5-4 vote, the majority of justices decided that the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right to "expressive association" allows the group to exclude members it does not want.

The policy excluding gay scouts was rewritten into its current form in 2004. The ban includes gay Boy Scout members, volunteers, and employees.

Ahead of the July announcement, the Boy Scouts had come under increasing pressure to change the policy. In April, a voting member of the Boy Scouts introduced a resolution to change the membership policy at the National Annual Meeting.

In May, Jennifer Tyrrell, a den mother from Ohio who was ousted last spring for being a lesbian, and Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two moms, offered the Boy Scouts National Annual Meeting a petition with 275,000 names urging a change to the policy.

Corporate giving

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