Gay Eagle Scout, Fired Gay Scout Leader, Deliver 125K Petition Signatures Urging Amazon to Suspend Donations to Boy Scouts

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As customers demand to know why Amazon is violating its own user agreement that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the company remains silent

SEATTLE, Wash.—Pascal Tessier, the 17-year-old who became the first openly gay Eagle Scout earlier this year, traveled to Seattle today to deliver more than 125,000 signatures from his Change.org petition urging Amazon.com to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts of America, until the Boy Scouts lifts its ban on gay leaders.

Tessier, flanked by supporters outside of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, was joined at the petition delivery by Geoff McGrath, the openly gay Scoutmaster from Seattle who was fired six weeks ago by the Boy Scouts of America because of his sexual orientation. Tessier, McGrath, Seattle-area Scout leaders, and members of Scouts for Equality and GLAAD all urged Amazon.com to suspend its support of the Boy Scouts of America through the company’s charitable giving program, AmazonSmile, until the Boy Scouts overturns its ban on gay leaders. [pullquote]“I am standing here today outside of Amazon.com’s headquarters to deliver one important message: discrimination is nothing to smile about,” said Tessier. “I’m asking Amazon to stand by its own policy and its commitment to the LGBT community, and remove organizations that discriminate against LGBT people—like the Boy Scouts of America did when they fired Geoff McGrath—from their AmazonSmile program.”[/pullquote]

“I am standing here today outside of Amazon.com’s headquarters to deliver one important message: discrimination is nothing to smile about,” said Tessier. “I’m asking Amazon to stand by its own policy and its commitment to the LGBT community, and remove organizations that discriminate against LGBT people — like the Boy Scouts of America did when they fired Geoff McGrath — from their AmazonSmile program.”

Despite its participation agreement for the AmazonSmile program, which explicitly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Amazon has taken no action to respond to Tessier’s Change.org petition or remove discriminatory organizations like the Boy Scouts of America from the AmazonSmile program. Last week, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said that if Amazon is following its own policies and the principles of the SPLC, on which Amazon claims to rely, the company should not include the Boy Scouts in the AmazonSmile program.

McGrath echoed that comment today in remarks made outside of Amazon.com’s headquarters.

“Amazon is not only condoning, it’s supporting discrimination right in its own backyard. Just a few miles from their offices is the church where I used to lead Boy Scouts Troop 98; that is, until I was told I could no longer serve because I’m gay,” McGrath said. “Today, my fellow Scouts and I are here to deliver more than 125,000 petition signatures calling on Amazon to do one simple thing: follow your own rules and stop supporting discrimination against people like me.” [pullquote]“Amazon is not only condoning, it’s supporting discrimination right in its own backyard. Just a few miles from their offices is the church where I used to lead Boy Scouts Troop 98; that is, until I was told I could no longer serve because I’m gay,” McGrath said. [/pullquote]

Representatives from Amazon received the petition signatures from Tessier and McGrath, but made no further comments about whether organizations that discriminate against LGBT people will continue to be allowed to participate in the AmazonSmile program. Today’s petition delivery coincided with Amazon’s annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, as well as the Boy Scouts of America’s National Annual Meeting in Nashville.

“As an Eagle Scout, a son of Seattle, and an Amazon customer, I am shocked at Amazon’s support of the Boy Scouts,” said Jesse Pacem, a Seattle-area member of Scouts for Equality, who spoke at today’s petition delivery. “I find the Boy Scouts’ homophobic membership policy deeply offensive. This is a policy that presumes to tell parents, such as myself, that prejudice is best for our families and children.”

GLAAD, which also supported today’s petition delivery, reiterated its call for Amazon to consider the message the company is sending to employees and customers by allowing organizations that discriminate against gay Americans to remain eligible for the AmazonSmile program.

“Given the company’s long history of support for equality, it’s shocking to see Amazon stand by the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policies that are hurting people right in Amazon’s own backyard,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “Despite its own rules that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the AmazonSmile program continues to funnel money to an organization whose policies blatantly discriminate against gay Americans. Until Amazon reevaluates its support of the Boy Scouts, the company is sending a message to LGBT employees and customers that they simply don’t matter.” “Given the company’s long history of support for equality, it’s shocking to see Amazon stand by the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policies that are hurting people right in Amazon’s own backyard,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

Two other companies—UPS and Intel—previously suspended donations to the Boy Scouts of America because of their discriminatory policy banning gay leaders, after Scouts for Equality led Change.org petitions calling on them to do so. Disney, Alcoa, and Lockheed Martin have also paused donations to the Boy Scouts until the Scouts lifts its ban on gay leaders.

Wednesday’s Seattle petition delivery occurred nearly one year after the Boy Scouts of America voted to change its policies to allow gay Scouts while still banning gay leaders.

To view live signature totals from Pascal Tessier’s Change.org petition, visit:

www.change.org/amazonscouts

To view photos from today’s petition delivery event, visit:

www.flickr.com/photos/glaad

For more information on Change.org, please visit:

www.change.org/about

Change.org is the world’s largest petition platform, empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see. There are more than 60 million users who use our tools to transform their communities – locally, nationally and globally.

For more information on Scouts for Equality, please visit:

www.scoutsforequality.org/

Since 1991, the Boy Scouts of America has barred openly gay individuals from participating in its program at any level. Scouts for Equality will lead a respectful, honest dialogue with current and former Scouts and Scout Leaders about ending this outdated policy. By embodying the values of the Scout Oath and Law, we believe we can restore the social relevancy of one of this country’s great cultural institutions: the Boy Scouts of America.

For more information on GLAAD, please visit:

www.glaad.org

GLAAD amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, please visit http://glaad.org or connect with GLAAD at http://glaad.org/connect.

[From a News Release]

 

1 Comment on "Gay Eagle Scout, Fired Gay Scout Leader, Deliver 125K Petition Signatures Urging Amazon to Suspend Donations to Boy Scouts"

  1. The hypocrites at the Southern Poverty Law Center have known about the BSA’s blatant anti-gay discrimination since 2000 but never said a single word about it until 2012, and that was practically an apology for the BSA.

    In 2012, SPLC co-founder Joe Levin wrote that back in 2000 the SPLC stopped donating to the United Way because of its support of the BSA, but Joe never got around to telling people about this act of protest. Not a word about the Boy Scouts for more than a decade. Can you imagine the impact the “hate group” label would have had on the BSA all those years ago?

    The SPLC STILL hasn’t branded the BSA a “hate group.” In fact, Joe Levin wrote:

    “Of course, the Boy Scouts of America doesn’t intend to encourage bigotry. But such policies can have that affect.” So, when the BSA announces that ALL gay men “Lack the moral values” to be Scouts and Scout Leaders, it’s merely “encouraging bigotry,” and completely unintentionally at that??

    http://wp.me/pCLYZ-js

    The SPLC didn’t even designate its first “anti-LGBT hate group” until 2011, some 40 years after Joe Levin opened the center for business. Apparently, there just wasn’t enough anti-LGBT discrimination around to warrant the SPLC’s attention for all of those decades. The only reason the SPLC added anti-LGBT groups to its list in 2011 in the first place is because someone in marketing targeted the LGBT community as mostly younger, mostly Progressive, and most importantly, often affluent. It’s nothing more than a ham-fisted fundraising ploy.

    So why have Joe Levin and the SPLC given the BSA a free pass for all of these years? It’s simple. Many of the SPLC’s mostly elderly donors were Scouts, or the parents/grandparents of Scouts, and linking the almighty donor with a “hate group” is bad for business.

    “Fighting hate” is all well and good, until it cuts into the bottom line. Vaya con dinero, Joe.

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