In a puzzling move, online retail giant Amazon is standing firm in its charitable support of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The Boy Scouts, which unapologetically discriminates against gay and lesbian adults, is among the organizations included in the AmazonSmile program, which allows shoppers to direct 0.5 percent of their purchase totals toward a charity of their choice.
This, despite the fact that the AmazonSmile participation agreement clearly stipulates that eligible organizations are those that “do not engage in, support, encourage, or promote […] intolerance, discrimination or discriminatory practices based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation [emphasis added], or age.”
More than 120,000 people have already spoken out against Amazon’s continued support of the Boy Scouts through a Change.org petition launched by 17 year-old gay Eagle Scout, Pascal Tessier. Tessier, who started the petition with Scouts for Equalityin support of ousted gay Scoutmaster Geoff McGrath, rightfully points out that “discrimination is nothing to smile about.”
GLAAD will be on the ground in Seattle on Wednesday alongside Scouts for Equality, Pascal, Geoff, and other local Scouts and equality supporters to deliver the petitions to Amazon headquarters. The delivery will coincide with the Boy Scouts National Meeting, which will kick off in Nashville, Tennessee on May 21.
Following a phone call with GLAAD, Amazon reiterated that it will not remove the Boy Scouts from the AmazonSmile program. Nor, apparently, will it be removing other blatantly anti-LGBT organizations, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) or even the defunct Exodus International.
Amazon says it will only remove organizations that appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) list of hate groups. However, even the SPLC has said that the Boy Scouts have no place in the AmazonSmile program:
“There’s not a lot of question that the Boy Scouts’ position on gay leadership definitely qualifies as intolerant by anybody’s standards – especially ours,” said SPLC co-founder and general counsel Joe Levin to msnbc. “If [Amazon is] relying at all upon the principles of the Southern Poverty Law Center, they couldn’t include the Boy Scouts on their list of potential recipients.”
To its credit, Amazon did remove the Pacific Justice Institute from the AmazonSmile program after GLAAD pointed out that the anti-gay group was included in AmazonSmile’s list of “charities,” despite it also appearing on the SPLC’s list of hate groups.
To date, Amazon has not returned GLAAD’s request for an in-person meeting while in Seattle.
Local legislators have issued their support, though. On May 12, Gov. Jay Inslee released an open letter, stating in part: “Washington State is known for honoring diversity and leading the nation in the right for equal rights. It is fitting that troops in our state would be accepting of personal differences. Historically, Boy Scouts have been known for their civic engagement and moral character, and the negative message of exclusion and discrimination that is being sent to Troop 98 and all Scouts undermines the strength and relevance of BSA in our communities.”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said:
“We believe that Scouting’s core message teaches admirable values and respect for others. The BSA’s decision undermines its credibility in claiming those values. It also does tremendous damage to the ability of the Chief Seattle Council to carry out the mission of Scouting in our region.”
“Mayor Murray is a dedicated advocate for LGBT equality. During his time in office, he helped to pass anti-discrimination laws the included protections for people who are gay, lesbian, and bi, and he also was integral in the creation of domestic partnerships in 2007. Mayor Murray is openly gay and married to his partner of more than twenty years.”