BAN ON GAYS COSTS SCOUTS DONATIONS FROM 2 BANKS
May 31, 1992
SAN FRANCISCO--Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank will no longer donate funds to the Boy Scouts because of the youth group's ban against homosexuals, according to a published report.
"Their policy basically conflicts with our long-standing nondiscrimination policy both at the corporate contributions level and as an employer," Wells
Fargo spokeswoman Kim Kellogg told the San Francisco Examiner in a story published in Saturday's editions.
Similar cutoffs were made earlier by the Bay Area United Way and Levi Strauss & Company.
The banks' moves were labeled "very confusing" by Kenneth Allen, spokesman for the Bay Area Boy Scouts Council. He said the Girl Scouts have gone to court three times to exclude boys and noted that Bank of America
continues to support that organization.
Kellogg said Wells Fargo would honor present pledges to local scout councils, including one to the Orange County Boy Scouts on which $25,000 is due in 1993 and 1994.
However, no new pledges will be made unless the Boy Scouts changes the policy, she said. Bank of America gives up to $20,000 a year to scouting organizations.
"Regrettably, our nondiscrimination
policy precludes us from continuing our financial support of the organization due to its decision to bar scouts and scout leaders based on sexual preference, rather than personal conduct," it said.
"Our values and principles are not up for sale," Buford Hill, Western regional director for the Scouts said earlier when United Way cut funding. "It is unthinkable to me that in a time when worries about drugs, crime, education, youth and gangs are
at an all-time high, some would instead direct their efforts at attacking an organization that has been a bulwark for values and the family."
BANKS CUT CORPORATE DONATIONS TO SCOUTS POLICY OF
EXCLUDING HOMOSEXUALS IS CITED
July 10, 1992
By: CAROL M. OSTROM
Just a month ago, Seafirst President Luke Helms was chairing a benefit auction for the Boy Scouts, helping sell some $600,000 worth of donated goodies. But his bank, owned by Bank of America Corp., will no longer support the Boy Scouts through corporate gifts.
The Scouts' policy of excluding boys and leaders on the basis of
their sexual orientation conflicts with the non-discrimination policies at Seafirst and Bank of America.
Such policies, in force in a number of corporations and governmental entities, mean trouble for the Boy Scouts, nationally and locally. The organization already has been excluded from Seattle's Combined Charities campaign. Barring a change of heart on the part of the Scouts, the group also will be excluded from King
County's campaign in the fall. In addition, First Interstate Bank, following a new decision at corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, will no longer give money directly to the Scouts.
The issue first blew up in a big way in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Boy Scouts group there had to declare its intentions, and the repercussions from that unequivocal statement headed out across the country. The United Way of the Bay Area, which serves five
counties with a fund-raising campaign of $58 million last year, recently cut the Scouts from its list of agencies receiving general-fund allocations. Bank of America (also a subsidiary of San Francisco-based Bank of America), Wells Fargo Bank and Levi Strauss & Co. also have cut off contributions, triggering a boycott campaign by Scout supporters against the banks.
In Seattle, the controversy is haunting a nervous United Way,
still smarting from a 1988 fund-raising campaign crippled by a controversy over funding of Planned Parenthood.
"We're not going to move quickly to take sides," said Clydean Zuckerman, vice president for marketing at United Way of King County. "It's legally complex and very divisive."
In Seattle, Dean Lollar, executive for the Chief Seattle Council of
the Boy Scouts of America, strongly protests Seafirst's decision. "The Boy Scouts of America feels it's inappropriate for a corporation to put this kind of pressure on a private membership organization," Lollar said, "and we're not going to give in and change our standards and turn our backs on mainstream America, on families."
"We believe that non-discrimination is the right thing to do,"
countered Seafirst spokeswoman Betty Lattie. "There's a very strong tradition in both of these banks (Seafirst and Bank of America) that we do not exclude people."
For many involved in the decisions, there were mixed feelings. "I think the Scouts do good work," said Kirk Robbins, chairman of the eligibility subcommittee for the county's Employees Combined Charitable Campaign. "I wish they would make their services
available to everyone."
Like Seafirst, the city and county governments have had a non-discrimination policy for a long time. But until recently, the issue had been a non-issue.
In the Bay Area, the conflict between non-discrimination policies and Boy Scout policies came to the surface after a gay man, rejected as a troop leader, took his case to court in Los Angeles.
United Way of the Bay Area took the lead on the issue. It wrestled with the issue for about 10 months, and after the Boy Scouts rejected any possibility they might soften or change its stance, United Way dropped the six local Boy Scout chapters from its general allocation.
As "non-funded members," the Scouts can continue to receive from individual givers who designate that their donations go to them
, said John Stafford, vice president for public affairs for the Bay Area United Way.
Although the 24-member task force that studied the issue for six months voted unanimously to oust the Scouts, it was with some reluctance, Stafford said. "In principle and in fact, we support the Boy Scout program. We think they do great work with kids. . . . It's not their program that we have a problem with. It's their attitude
about who should be involved in it."
What makes the issue "such a big deal," Stafford said, is that the Scouts "have such a huge influence on the shaping of moral outlook of American youth."
One question raised in the San Francisco discussion went something like this: "Why can't the Boy Scouts be more like the Girl Scouts?" The Girl Scouts - including both the local Totem Scout
Council and the national Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. - say they respect the beliefs of each member regarding sexuality and do not "investigate or intrude into personal matters." Unlike the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts do not have policies that focus on individual sexual orientation, but rather on "appropriate conduct" of employees and members. They do not condone or permit "sexual displays of any sort" by members, according to both national and local policies.
"It just makes so much sense," said Brenda Berg, assistant executive director of the Totem Girl Scouts.
Lollar said the Boy Scouts' policy stems from the "expectations from the people we serve," meaning families. "It's really an issue about leadership," he said, not about which children are allowed in. "On the realistic side, this is not an issue for youth members. It doesn't become an issue."
So is he saying that homosexuals can't be good leaders? "We're saying they're not the proper role models that our membership expects," he said. "This is really not a civil-rights issue," he said. "We have never tried to force our values on anyone else. In fact, we'll stand up for their right to have their own beliefs. But we ask that we be given the same right."
United Way of King County, which has its own non-discrimination policy prohibiting funding of organizations that discriminate on the basis of sex or sexual orientation, among other things, admits it has a problem.
It funds shelters for abused women, for example, Zuckerman noted. Those shelters don't take men.
In other parts of the country, the Boy Scouts have been sued for
refusing to take girls or atheists. "It's a difficult issue," Zuckerman said. "It's hard to envision a win-win (situation), but we're going to do our best."
While the decision by Seafirst cuts off direct corporate contributions, the bank still will give a corporate gift to United Way.
United Way is free to distribute it to its member agencies. Since
the Boy Scouts are still a member agency, and in fact last year were the 13th-ranked recipient of United Way funds in King County (at $612,228), they still will get a substantial chunk of change from Seafirst, which gave about $1.14 million to United Way agencies last year.
In addition, individual donors still can donate to the Boy Scouts through the employee campaign.
Seafirst spokeswoman Lattie said Helms, who is on the board of
the Chief Seattle Council, would likely continue to volunteer for the Scouts. Helms declined comment.
Right now, it's not the money but the principle that seems to be at stake, Lollar said. "We're going to survive," he said. "We're not going to let this community down at all."
BofA Changes Mind on Scouts After Reviewing Policy on Gays
By Teresa Moore
San Francisco Chronicle
August 19, 1992
The Bank of America has reversed its controversial decision to
withhold donations to the Boy Scouts of America, after deciding that the organization does not discriminate against homosexual youths.
The decision yesterday to resume contributions came just days after the bank's initial action was criticized in the Republican Party platform. But the bank denied that its decision had anything to do with public pressure.
"Our understanding is that they have been discriminatory in the
past," said Peter Magnani, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based bank. "They have clarified that now they are open to all boys."
But an official for the national scouting organization said that interpretation is inaccurate. Blake Lewis, a national Boy Scouts spokesman, said that official interpretation of the phrase "morally straight" in the scouting oath means "not homosexual."
Gay youths are "not eligible" to be Scouts, Lewis said. "We have always maintained that 'morally straight' speaks to the fact that young people are expected to live a life of high standards that are consistent with the expectations of mainstream American families," Lewis said.
Two months ago, the bank announced that it would cease to donate to the Scouts because the group's policy banning gay
members was at odds with the bank's nondiscrimination policy. The bank's decision was met with an angry outcry from Scout supporters and religious fundamentalists, who picketed the bank and withdrew money from its accounts.
Last week, Republican Party members crafting a "traditional values" platform implied that Bank of America and other institutions that cut funds to the Scouts were undermining "family values."
In the midst of the uproar surrounding their decision, the bank, which is headed by former Boy Scout Richard Rosenberg, initiated a series of communications with the national leadership of the Boy Scouts of America.
Magnani said that after consulting with Boy Scouts of America President John Clendenin, the bank concluded that the youth organization is open to all boys who subscribe to the Scout oath and law.
Clendenin could not be reached for comment. "Our understanding is that scouting is open to all boys--including gay boys," Magnani said. On this basis, he said, bank executives decided that the youth program was indeed eligible for corporate donations.
Magnani said the bank acknowledges that the Boy Scouts prohibits homosexuals as leaders but found that not to be a
sufficient reason to deny them funds. He said the bank's primary concern is the youngsters the organization was established to serve.
"Leadership isn't the same issue for us," Magnani said. "Our criterion is that they make their services available to kids."
Wells Fargo Bank and Levi Strauss are two other corporations that announced several weeks ago that they would withhold
donations from the Boy Scouts as long as the organization continued to discriminate. Representatives of both companies said that they had no intention of reversing their positions.
When Levi Strauss approached the Boy Scouts several months ago for a clarification of the Scouts' membership policies, it received a very different answer than what Bank of America says it was told. "They wrote us back and said that they exclude gays and atheists as
leaders and members," said Mary Gross, spokeswoman for the clothing company.
"'The Boy Scouts of America does not accept homosexuals as members or leaders,'" Gross said, reading from a letter from Boy Scouts spokesman Lewis. "According to our direct communication, the Boy Scouts of America has confirmed to us that it excludes on the basis of sexual orientation and religious beliefs and has no plans
to change those policies," Gross said.
Ken McPherson, spokesman for Forgotten Scouts, a national group that lobbies for official inclusion of homosexuals in scouting, blamed Boy Scouts officials for creating confusion.
"Either the Boy Scouts have made a major change in their policy or they are duping the Bank of America into thinking that they are allowing young gay people into Scouts," he said.
From The Associated Press
The Oregonian, December 11, 2000
PORTLAND -- Wells Fargo Bank and Portland General Electric are asking the United Way not to pass on more than $600,000 in donations to the Boy Scouts because the organization bans gays from serving as Scout leaders.
"The Boy Scouts are as American as apple pie, but this was an easy decision to make," said Tom Unger, a Wells Fargo spokesman.
"We really have to, as a company, return to what our core vision and values are, and that's to not discriminate," Unger said.
But the bank still supports a separate scouting program called Learning for Life because it has an independent policy, he said. Unger also said that Wells Fargo employees are being encouraged to support the Boy Scouts as volunteers.
Larry Otto, executive director of the Cascade Pacific Council of
the Boy Scouts, defended the national policy barring homosexuals and said the Scouts rely more on families for funding than corporate donors.
"Our values aren't for sale," Otto said. "We aren't going to be trumped by anyone's dollars." Wells Fargo pledged $400,000 to the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette while PGE pledged $217,000 to the agency during this year's annual drive.
The local Boy Scouts council, however, has an annual budget of about $6.1 million with just $252,000 -- or about 4 percent -- coming from United Way last year.
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly voted to uphold the national Boy Scout policy that prohibits "avowed homosexuals" from being Scout leaders.
Critics said the court was sanctioning discrimination but
supporters praised the ruling, saying the Scouts should be allowed to set their own rules.
In the Portland area, the board of the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette voted in October to continue its financial support for the Boy Scouts.
The decision came in the middle of the United Way's annual corporate drive, and agency officials have been wary about the effects.
The United Way's total goal for this year's drive is about $22 million. With half the money tallied, donors have designated about $48,000 to the Scouts, an increase over last year at the midway point. Overall, the Scouts received $73,000 last year.
United Way spokeswoman Stacey Graham said, however, that more individuals have steered money away from Scouts. The council
serves about 53,000 children in Oregon and southwest Washington.