WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — The Merck Foundation, the charitable arm of Merck & Co., one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, has announced it has suspended all funding to the Boys Scouts of America.
The foundation indicated that it will consider funding the BSA again once it rescinds its policy against gays and gay and lesbian scout leaders.
Merck, which manufactures some of the most widely used drugs including asthma treatment Singulair and the HPV vaccine Gardasil, joins Fortune 500 companies Intel and UPS, which both pulled their funding following a campaign by led by the advocacy group Scouts for Equality, which was co-founded by Iowa-based activist Zach Wahls.
In a statement released last week, Merck Foundation spokesperson Brian Grill wrote:
“Recently, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation. The BSA’s policy of exclusion directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines. On that basis the Merck Foundation has decided to suspend funding to the BSA. The decision to suspend support applies to direct funding from the Merck Foundation, the matching of gifts from Merck employees, and paid time off for volunteering.
[...] We cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs. We remain ready and willing to re-consider our funding position in the event that the BSA were to revise its policy.
[...] We’re confident that this decision is aligned with our high ethical giving standards and strong core beliefs, and reinforces our long-standing commitment to policies that prevent against discrimination.
“I am thrilled that Merck & Company, a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical giant, has announced its foundation arm is immediately withdrawing funding from the Boy Scouts of America until the program ends its anti-gay membership policy.” said Wahls, who is currently campaigning to have telecommunications giant Verizon also cease its support of the Boy Scouts.
In July, the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its long-standing policy that prohibits openly gay members from joining the organization and bans gays and lesbians from serving as scout leaders.
The policy has provoked backlash for the organization, including criticism from President Barack Obama.