It’s 2012, and America is finally starting to come around to the idea of gay rights. Family sitcoms featuring gay characters fill primetime slots on all of the major networks. Companies like Oreo and Chevrolet are now running ads in support of the LBGTA community. President Obama, though he’s yet to do anything about it, has officially gone on record stating that gay marriage should be legal. Yet somehow, the Boy Scouts of America, as an organization, is still in the dark. It’s still as anti-gay as it’s been since the 1970s – and disturbingly, that doesn’t seem to bother some of the organization’s biggest donors.
A report by the Foundation Center recently found that the Boy Scouts of America received millions of dollars in funding from private donors and corporate foundations over the past few years even though the BSA continues to take a hard-line stance against gay membership. Twenty-three of the Center’s 50 top-ranked corporate foundations donated a total of $3.6 million to the Boy Scouts in 2010, according to the report. Among these were big banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America as well as other well-known companies like Verizon and UPS.
Many of these companies have strict policies against donating to organizations that discriminate against the LBGTA community. Intel says that it won’t. On its website, the corporation explicitly states that “Intel will not fund organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, veteran or disability status.” And yet Intel was the BSA’s biggest donor in 2010. It gave about $700,000 to the Scouts.
U.S. Bank’s parent company, U.S. Bancorp, is guilty of the same hypocrisy. On its website, it states “The U.S. Bancorp Foundation charitable contributions program will not provide funding for … organizations whose practices are not in keeping with the company’s equal opportunity policy.”
Wells Fargo, on the other hand, actually stopped funding the BSA in 2000, when it decided the organization’s anti-gay policy conflicted with the bank’s donation guidelines. Now it’s the BSA’s fifth-largest donor.
Bank of America cut funding to the BSA in 1992, but was then bullied by the ultra-conservative American Family Association into re-opening the till a few months later.
This is an unsettling discovery. Anyone who does business with these major banks – or any of the other huge donors on the Foundation Center’s list – is indirectly funding the BSA’s anti-gay agenda, whether they like it or not.
The BSA has the right to refuse membership to whomever it wants. But what we can’t understand is why the corporate foundations that claim they won’t donate to organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation are bankrolling a very clearly anti-gay organization. They’re playing both sides at the expense of their customers. Every U.S. Bank, Bank of America and Wells-Fargo customer with a gay son is unwittingly funding one of his biggest oppressors. We’re no politicians, but that just seems wrong to us.