WASHINGTON (BP)–A number of major corporations and charitable organizations are pulling their funding from the Boy Scouts of America, criticizing the organization for its ban on homosexuality.
A spokesman for the Boy Scouts, however, asserted to the Internet news site CNSNews.com Aug. 28 that controversy is nothing new for the organization and added, “[I]f you don’t agree with us, you can go your own way.”
The Boy Scouts won a huge victory this summer when the Supreme Court ruled that BSA is a private organization with the right to exclude homosexuals. The legal triumph was followed, however, with financial losses.
The United Way of Southeastern New England recently pulled its support, worth more than $70,000 a year. Several other United Way chapters across the country have taken similar steps, as have major corporations like the Wells Fargo Bank and clothes maker Levi Strauss.
The United Way of Santa Fe, N.M., pulled its sponsorship of the Boy Scouts five years ago. United Way spokesperson Ron Stevens told CNSNews.com his chapter’s policy was not to “provide discretionary funding to any agency that discriminated on a variety of characteristics, sexual orientation being one of those.” Stevens said the Santa Fe chapter’s contribution to the Boy Scouts was more than $20,000 a year before it was stopped.
“If BSA did not allow Hispanics or African Americans to be recipients of their services, would the value of those services to their people justify our funding of them? I don’t think so,” Stevens said.
Gregg Shields, spokesperson for the Boy Scouts of America, said the organization has faced many challenges over the years regarding its policy to exclude homosexuals.
“Over the last 20 years, we have been litigating over this issue. We have been sued by homosexuals who want to be leaders. We have been sued by atheists and we have been sued by agnostics who want to be scouts and leaders. We are voluntary and private, and if you don’t agree with us, you can go your own way,” Shields said.
Julie Niels, spokesperson for the conservative group, Focus on the Family, also defended the Boy Scouts’ policy toward homosexuals.
“There has been a cultural shift with the momentum the pro-gay agenda has gained in the past few years and the Boy Scouts are getting penalized for standing against that,” Niels said. “I think the gay community has made it clear that the Boy Scouts are not worthy of the same tolerance and diversity they demand. I think they will continue to beat that drum and will have harmful effects in the future.
“It’s tragic that people would pull funding from them because they dared to define the rights of their organization,” Niels said.
Shields said despite the negative publicity the Scouts have gotten, the organization remains healthy. He pointed to the more than 1 million volunteers who help the organization and its rise in membership, which Shields described as “more growth in the last two years than since the baby boom.”
“We are looking for the best years we have ever seen: more scouts, more parents, more volunteers and more financial support,” Shields said.
Pierce is an editorial assistant with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.