Chipotle cancels sponsorship of Utah Boy Scout event due to anti-gay policy


SALT LAKE CITY — Chipotle Mexican Grill has pulled its sponsorship of Utah‘s “Scout-O-Rama” because of the Boy Scouts of America‘s long-standing ban on gays.

The popular Colorado-based restaurant chain initially signed on to provide about $4,200 worth of coupons to the Utah Boy Scouts’ annual event, scheduled for May 4 in a Salt Lake City suburb. The Boy Scouts’ Great Salt Lake Council is one of the largest in the country, with the majority of troops sponsored by Mormon churches.

Chipotle’s anti-discrimination policy states that the company shouldn’t support organizations that exclude based on sexual orientation. When company leaders found out about the promise to offer coupons, they nixed the idea, Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said.

“It was never our intention for this to be this some kind of an endorsement of broader Boy Scout policies,” said Arnold, adding that the company sponsors community events across the country to make connections with residents.

“Ultimately, we decided that the right thing to do was to remain consistent with our policy and terminate the sponsorship,” Arnold said.

The rescission of the offer was first reported by Think Progress.org.

The Chipotle decision comes as the Boy Scouts of America’s national executive board ponders a proposal to move away from its no-gays membership policy or a local option that would give the decision to the individual troops.

In late January, Boy Scouts of America leaders announced the proposal. But the organization’s national executive board decided a week later that it needed to more time to make the crucial decision, pushing the vote back until May.

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Earlier this month, the Scouts distributed a questionnaire to 1.1 million adult Scouts that used fictional situations to discern where Scouting’s membership falls on questions of homosexuality, gays camping with children and gays in church leadership.

Chipotle, which has four restaurants in the Salt Lake City area, has sponsored past Utah Scout-O-Ramas and will be watching to see how the vote goes in May, Arnold said.

The Utah Scout’s council is one of the largest in the country, with 5,500 troops and 73,400 youth members. Boy Scouts is an integral part of Mormon culture in Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsors 99 percent of the Scout troops in the Salt Lake City area.

Nationally, the Mormon church has more Boy Scouts than any other denomination, with 37,000 troops and 420,000 youth members, according to figures from the Boy Scouts of America.

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