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SPLC Urges Amazon to Drop Boy Scouts From Charity List Over Anti-gay Policy

The Southern Poverty Law Center has written a letter to Amazon urging the online retailer to drop the Boy Scouts of America from its charitable program AmazonSmile over the BSA’s discriminatory policy towards gay adults.

The letter came in response to an Amazon spokesman who was quoted earlier this month saying that the company relies on lists published by the SPLC to determine if certain organizations are ineligible to participate in AmazonSmile – presumably to prevent contributions going to designated ‘hate groups’

Boy scoutsWrote SPLC Co-Founder and General Counsel Joe Levin: 

It is true that we do not list the BSA as a hate group. We define a hate group as one that attacks or maligns an entire group of people, typically because of their immutable characteristics, or that knowingly spreads falsehoods in an attempt to denigrate a group of people. The BSA does not meet those criteria.

But the lack of a hate group designation for the BSA does not mean we condone the organization's discrimination and intolerance. The BSA's policy of barring openly gay adults from participation in leadership positions is inconsistent with the SPLC's mission of tolerance, its efforts to end prejudice, and its history of opposition to discriminatory treatment of gays and lesbians. [...]

We further believe that BSA does not meet the criteria for eligibility stated on your website, specifically that participating groups cannot "engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities."

There is no question that the BSA's policy toward gay men qualifies as intolerant - by anyone's standards, but especially ours.

We believe the BSA should not be eligible for AmazonSmile. And while we appreciate the fact that Amazon uses our hate group list to disqualify certain organizations, the lack of inclusion on that list should not be read as an endorsement. Thank you for your consideration.

In a similar move last week, LGBT scouts and advocates hand-delivered more than 125,000 petition signatures to Amazon’s company headquarters in Seattle urging the online retailer to drop the BSA from its charity list.  


Amazon Receives 125K Hand-Delivered Petitions to Drop Boy Scouts Over Its Anti-gay Policy

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Earlier this week, LGBT scouts and advocates hand-delivered more than 125,000 petition signatures to Amazon’s company headquarters in Seattle urging the online retailer to suspend its financial support of the Boy Scouts of America until the organization lifts its ban on gay adults.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 10.45.35 AMGay Eagle Scout Pascal Tessier (above, center) launched the Change.org campaign on Tuesday in support of ousted gay Scoutmaster Geoff McGrath (above, right). In April, the BSA removed McGrath from his leadership position in the first enforcement of last year's new rules barring openly gay adults. 

Head over to GLAAD’s flicker page to see more photos from the event.

On Friday, Former Secretary of Defense and newly elected Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates said he would have pushed for openly gay adults to be allowed the organization had he been in charge last year, but opposes any attempts to re-address the policy at the moment.


Boy Scouts President Robert Gates Would've Welcomed Gay Adults, Doesn't Want to Reopen Issue Now

Robert gatesFormer Secretary of Defense and newly elected Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates said in an interview on Friday that he would have pushed for openly gay adults to be allowed the organization had he been in charge when BSA leadership made the controversial decision to end its ban on openly gay youth (but not gay adults) last year. 

"I was prepared to go further than the decision that was made," Gates told The Associated Press in an interview in advance of a speech before the group's national leaders at its annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. "I would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country.

Gates, who oversaw the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2011, sees welcoming gay youth into Scouting as an important step forward - but said he opposes any further attempts to address the policy now.

"Given the strong feelings — the passion — involved on both sides of this matter, I believe strongly that to re-open the membership issue or try to take last year's decision to the next step would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement — with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own," Gates said in prepared remarks.

A handful of anti-gay conservatives who opposed the inclusion of openly gay boys have already started their own Mike Huckabee-approved scouting alternative: Trail Life USA.


Gay Eagle Scout Urges Amazon to Drop Boy Scouts from Charity List

Tessier

Gay Eagle Scout Pascal Tessier has launched a campaign protesting Amazon's support of the Boy Scouts, the Washington Post reports:

Pascal Tessier, a 17-year-old from Chevy Chase, Md., who made history when he received the Boy Scouts’ highest ranking earlier this year, held a news conference Monday in front of Amazon.com’s office in Northwest Washington. At the event, he announced his intent to deliver more than 120,000 signatures to the company’s Seattle office in an effort to encourage the online retailer to drop the Boy Scouts from the list of organizations that can benefit from its charitable program, AmazonSmile.

Amazon spokesman Ty Togers told the WaPo that it's the Southern Poverty Law Center's responsibility that the charity is on Amazon's list: "We rely on lists published by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control to determine if certain organizations are ineligible to participate."

Tessier plans to travel to Seattle on Wednesday to petition the company and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the WaPo.


Boy Scouts Prepare to Force Out Gay Eagle Scout While Allowing His Straight Twin Brother to Stay: VIDEO

Easton-calabria

Liam and August Easton-Calabria are Eagle Scouts. They are also twin brothers.

Soon, Liam (right) will be forced out of the Scouts because he is gay. His brother is straight.

Seattle's KOMO News interviewed the twins about the discrimination.

Said Liam: "It was an interesting revelation to see the Boy Scouts come together as a non-inclusive organization. I don't think it's true to the scouting way. I mean, absolutely, scouting should be an inclusive organization."

Watch KOMO's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

In related news, Geoffrey McGrath, whose story we have featured quite a few times recently on Towleroad, is fighting the Scouts after being forced out over his sexual orientation. And the BSA has pulled the church's charter for standing by him.

Continue reading "Boy Scouts Prepare to Force Out Gay Eagle Scout While Allowing His Straight Twin Brother to Stay: VIDEO" »


Eagle Scout Loses Summer Job with Boy Scouts After Being Outed on Facebook: VIDEO

Bryant_wahls

Eagle Scout Garrett Bryant was fired from his job by the Boy Scouts after being outed on Facebook, NBC News reports:

Under Scouting policy, gay youth are welcome, but gay adults are not. As a 19-year-old college freshman, Bryant knew that his chance to work again at a Boy Scout camp this summer — and hold any other future leadership position — depended on how well he hid his status as a gay man from his friends and colleagues in Scouting.

But with one Facebook post, Bryant was out — out as a gay adult in Scouting and, according to three sources in local Scouting, out of that summer job.

He thought the post was vague enough: In a moment of exuberance last month over meeting his first boyfriend, Bryant changed his Facebook status to “in a relationship,” adding no comment or details. But the status change prompted revealing, congratulatory comments from non-Scouting friends who knew his sexual orientation, such as “Oh, good for you, man, what's his name?’”

Although Bryant deleted the comments it was over for him and camp leaders told him they would not hire him back to Camp Geronimo, outside of Phoenix, because they had seen the posts.

Bryant did everything he could to keep his sexual orientation private, and thought he wouldn't fall under the Scouts' discriminatory policy because of his age, but to no avail.

Bryant spoke with MSNBC's Ari Melber and Eagle Scout and LGBT ally Zach Wahls last night on The Last Word. His story was also covered by the Arizona Republic.

Watch both segments, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Eagle Scout Loses Summer Job with Boy Scouts After Being Outed on Facebook: VIDEO" »


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