Scouts Won Gay Ban, But Lose Support

Dr. Emily Senay
CBS/The Early Show
The Boy Scouts of America may have won its Supreme Court battle to ban gays, but it is losing governmental support and charitable donations, The New York Times reports.

Since the Supreme Court ruling two months ago, dozens of United Ways from coast to coast have cut off millions of dollars in funding, and corporations like Chase Manhattan and Textron Inc. have cut of donations.

San Francisco, Chicago and San Jose, Calif., have banned Scout troops from using local facilities, and Connecticut may follow suit.

Connecticut has banned contributions to the Scouts by state employees through a state-run charity. The Scouts are suing Connecticut over the move.

Companies that donate to the Boy Scouts of America are in a quandary: Their employment policies contradict the Boy Scouts' court-upheld right to ban gay troop members.

Media company Knight Ridder has asked that funds it gives to the United Way not be directed to the Boy Scouts because it conflicts "with the company's philosophy on people and diversity, and the company could not support such a discriminatory stance," said Polk Laffoon, vice president of corporate relations.

A June 28 Supreme Court ruling allowed the Scouts to retain membership and leadership criteria that exclude avowed homosexuals.

Afterward, the Scouts reaffirmed the right "to ask all our of members to do their best to live the Scout Oath and Law," which include pledges to revere God and be "morally straight."

The Boy Scouts raise about $125 million annually.

A spokesman for United Way of America, Philip Jones, said the nonprofit agency gave $83.7 million to all of the Boy Scouts organizations in 1996, the latest year for which data was available.

Gregg Shields, a spokesman for the Irving-based national council, said he could not predict the impact of corporate withdrawals, but funding has remained stable.

"What really makes scouting work is the scout leader and the volunteer - but that's not to diminish the financial contributions that companies make," Shields said.

The 90-year-old organization tries to provide educational programs for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship and to develop personal fitness. The organization intends on meeting those goals, Shields said.

"We'll find someone to pay the registration, we'll find someone to donate that uniform that's sitting in the closet," he said. "We won't let that get in the way of a young man's scouting experience."

"The Boy Scouts of America have taught traditional family values and we feel that an avowed homosexual is not a role model for those values," he said.