Boy Scouts Vs. United Way In California

Boy Scouts United Way
A Boy Scout is always supposed to be prepared, but the Ventura County, California, scouts were blindsided when, after 57 years, the local United Way stopped funding them, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.

"We were getting allocations from United Way of about $50,000 a year," said Dave Graska of the Ventura County Boy Scouts.

The United Way decision was made after the Boy Scouts of America announced it would exclude gays from the organization.

The charity then passed an inclusiveness policy stating it would only fund: "...agencies that provide services ... without discriminating on the basis of ... sexual orientation."

"The reality is there are a lot of people in Ventura county who happen to agree with our policy," said Dave M. Smith, president of the United Way of Ventura County.

Not major donors Denny and Allyson Weinberg, who gave $100,000 to the United Way last year.

"This was very confusing because this inclusiveness policy came out of nowhere," said Denny Weinberg. "It wasn't promoted, there was no press release, there was no letter to donors about this."

The Weinbergs were so upset they stopped giving to the United Way and launched their own fundraising effort called "Friends of Ventura County Scouts."

Their ads urge supporters to donate: "The Boy Scouts of America are making a positive difference in our community yet United Way of Ventura County is ending their support for the Scouts."

So far the group has raised almost $80,000, much more than the United Way ever planned to give.

"People love scouting, it's an American tradition, it's like baseball for heaven's sakes," said Allyson Weinberg.

After the June 2000 Supreme Court decision which affirmed the Boy Scouts' right to ban gays, about 50 local United Way chapters pulled their financial support - but that's only about five percent of chapters nationwide.

"We don't base our policy on what the United Way chapter in Lexington, Kentucky, or Fargo, North Dakota happens to think the policy should be," said Ventura County's David Smith.

But the United Way did try to compromise, offering $50,000 to an educational program affiliated with the scouts.

For now, the Ventura County scouts don't want the money.

"We respect the right of the United Way to establish its values, just as we have the right to establish ours," said scout leader Dave Graska.

A sentiment shared by many in a town now divided between two of its most cherished institutions.