A gay Seattle Boy Scout leader ousted for his sexuality says he was conflicted at first about joining a protest against Amazon.com for a program that helps fund the Boy Scouts of America.
Geoff McGrath, 49, was among those who turned in more than 125,000 signatures from a Change.org petition Wednesday at company headquarters in Seattle.
The petition asks Amazon to to stop financially supporting the Boy Scouts of America through its AmazonSmile program, which gives organizations a small percentage of each sale.
“I was a little bit horrified when I found out about it because I love Amazon. We get Amazon packages on our doorstep a couple of times a week and they’ve been really great on supporting tolerance and having really excellent policies for non discrimination at the company,” McGrath told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz Show.
The petition was created by Pascal Tessier, a 17-year-old Maryland Eagle Scout, who earlier this year became the first openly gay youth to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. While the Boy Scouts voted last year to allow gay Scouts, Tessier says he worries about what happens when he is an adult.
“If the BSA is willing to kick out an amazing Scoutmaster like Geoff McGrath today, what will stop them from removing me when I turn 18?” asks Tessier.
“Amazon’s policy is really clear,” says McGrath. “Their policy is you can’t use this program to fund intolerant programs.”
A number of companies including Disney, UPS and Intel have suspended donations to the Boy Scouts because of their policy banning gay leaders.
While some might worry about the impact cutting donations will have on individual Scout troops, McGrath says most local activity is volunteer and community driven and shouldn’t be impacted.
“The money that goes to Boy Scouts of America doesn’t fund the troops and it doesn’t fund the packs. What it funds is their discriminating employment practices,” he says.
In a statement, Amazon said, “Customers can select from nearly a million legally recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organizations on AmazonSmile. We rely on lists published by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the US Office of Foreign Assets Control to determine if certain organizations are ineligible to participate.”