Family Research Council vs. UPS Over Boy Scouts
The Family Research Council is pretty peeved with United Parcel Service.
The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based conservative Christian group announced that it would no longer use the international shipping company because of its recent decision to stop corporate donations to the Boy Scouts of America due to the scouting organization's anti-gay policy, Think Progress reports.
FRC officials sharply criticized UPS on its website and praised the BSA's firm stance on banning gay members and troop leaders.
FRC tried to resolve the matter behind the scenes and even contacted UPS' Chairman and CEO Scott Davis with a letter of protest. The mammoth private shipping company promptly replied," the blog post on FRC's website reads. "Unfortunately, the company only reiterated its position that until the BSA puts a greater priority on the political agenda of LGBT activists than the protection of Scouts, they are not entitled to the same equality UPS claims to endorse.
The post goes on to say that UPS isn't "interested in true diversity" and is "strong-arming anyone" who is against their support for the LGBT community and is "catering to the intolerant crowd." FRC plans to use alternate shippers. FRC's Tuesday statement claimed that the BSA's anti-gay policy is a "matter of security" to protect children from sexual abuse.
"The Scouts' policy is also a matter of security. After hundreds of cases of child sex abuse plagued the organization, the Boy Scouts tried to create a membership criterion that reduces the risk to Scouts, and that protects the rights of their parents to be the first to discuss topics like sexual orientation with their children," the statement reads.
In November, UPS announced that it would officially sever ties with the BSA over the group's discrimination against the LGBT community. The company made its decision after an online petition protesting its annual grants to the scouting organization had more than 80,000 signatures, the Associated Press reported.
"We promote an environment of diversity and inclusion," UPS spokeswoman Kristen Petrella said. "UPS is a company that does the right things for the right reasons." UPS donated $45.3 million in grants last year and Petrella added that the company knew about the BSA's police before the petition.
The Boy Scouts are hardly happy with the controversy. "These types of contributions go directly to serving young people in local councils and this decision will negatively impact youth," BSA spokesperson Smith countered . "Through 110,000 units, scouting represents millions of youth and adult members in diverse communities across the nation, each with a variety of beliefs on this topic."
At nearly the same time, officials from the Merck Foundation announced that it has stopped funding the BSA as well, AP notes. The pharmaceutical giant also cited the anti-gay policy for cutting ties with the BSA. Officials did say, however, that they would consider donating once again if the BSA allows gay members. And just before that, Intel announced it would also cease giving to BSA.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that BSA, as a private group, had a constitutional right to freedom of association. James Dale, a model Eagle Scout, became out in college and spoke publicly about it. Dale filed suit in a New Jersey court. Dale's counsel was Evan Wolfson, since become one of the most prominent advocates for same-sex marriage.
The case caused a rift between the once sacrosanct scouts and progressive organizations, individuals, and now, corporate charity giving. At one time such a boycott by such large, consumer-based companies in the nation like Merck, Intel and UPS would have meant a nationwide boycott by concerned groups like FRC.
Up until last summer, such controversies might have ended -- or at least continued quietly. But then came Chick-Fil-A. Responding to the franchise's CEO's statement and a record of his contributions to groups like FRC caused outrage in gay and progressive circles, including veiled threats from big city mayors. But the pressure backfired when TV personality Mike Huckabee pushed an "appreciation day" that brought out millions of traditional marriage supporters.
The Boy Scouts, on the other hand, seem to be playing their deck very differently. Rather than splashy announcements about boycotts or other pressure tactics, officials are quietly lobbying groups such as religious, corporate and civic. The strategy might be a slow-building one, but it may also prove more effective than buying large quantities of chicken parts -- or not -- one day a year.