Among the corporations that make up the current Fortune 500 — Fortune magazine’s yearly list of the top 500 American companies ranked by revenue — about one in seven, or 14 percent, each donated at least $10,000 to the Boy Scouts of America in 2010, despite the organization’s longtime ban of gays and lesbians.
Many of those donors, like Comcast and Kraft Foods Group, have policies that are supposed to prohibit funding organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation.
The list of Boy Scout donors includes household names such as Campbell’s Soup, Macy’s, Morgan Stanley, and Sprint.
Public scrutiny over the Boy Scouts’ discrimination against gays and lesbians and its much-publicized proposal to revisit the gay ban has led some of the Boy Scouts’ corporate donors to take sides in the matter. Corporations like KeyBank and Intel have decided to pull funding from the Scouts, while companies like ketchup-maker H.J. Heinz Ketchup have said they will continue supporting the Scouts.
No atheists, agnostics, or homosexuals allowed
Last July, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it was reaffirming its policy of excluding “open and avowed homosexuals” from serving as Boy Scouts and troop leaders. Significant public outcry and organizing followed, and earlier this year, the Scouts’ executive board promised to revisit its national anti-gay policy at the BSA’s national board meeting in early February.
However, BSA officials have been clear that even if the organization removes the national policy restricting membership based on sexual orientation, that would not apply directly to chartered organizations or local units, meaning individual troops could still bar gays and lesbians from membership or employment.
Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement last month.
But after significant pressure from social conservative groups, the BSA’s board did not revisit the policy this month, instead pushing a decision to the Scouts’ general membership meeting in May.
Adding to the uproar, this month the Human Rights Campaign recently uncovered a BSA job application professing employment discrimination against “known or avowed homosexuals,” as well as atheists and agnostics:
Accordingly, in the exercise of its constitutional right to bring the values of Scouting to its youth members, the Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals, or others as professional Scouters or in other capacities in which such employment would tend to interfere with its mission of reinforcing the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law in young people.
The application noted that felony convictions are “not an automatic bar to employment.”
The American Independent searched the Fortune 500 corporate foundations’ tax filings for 2010, the most recent year these tax statements were available for all of the companies. That search turned up 69 major corporations that each donated at least $10,000 to the Boy Scouts despite its ban on gays.
The 46 highlighted in this story is in addition to the 23 corporations TAI identified last September. A minority of the Fortune 500 companies did not have charitable foundations and therefore did not have publicly available tax forms.
That funding could cause corporations to have downgraded ratings from the nation’s largest LGBT lobby, the Human Rights Campaign.
Earlier this month, HRC announced that corporations that have donated to the BSA would lose points on the group’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates corporations on LGBT-inclusiveness.
“To receive a perfect score, companies would have to prohibit philanthropic giving to non-religious organizations that have a written policy of anti-gay discrimination, or permit its chapters, affiliates, or troops to do so,” reads a press statement HRC released last month.
In that statement, HRC President Chad Griffin argued that the BSA’s proposed policy reversal would not lead to the “full inclusion” of gay Scouts and troop leaders.
“While it is good news that the onerous national ban will come to an end, it’s not acceptable to abdicate nondiscrimination standards to local units,” Griffin said. “It’s akin to a national restaurant chain saying that it will not discriminate at its corporate headquarters, but allow local restaurants to discriminate at will.”