Zach Wahls, the Iowa student whose impassioned pro-gay marriage speech to his state's legislators became the most-watched political clip of 2011 on YouTube after going viral twice last year, penned the petition on behalf of Scouts for Equality. In the petition, Wahls notes that while the BSA "has historically been a vital American institution," it does not "deserve the financial backing of companies that strive for workplace equality."
"Verizon Communications Inc. recently received a perfect 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index," Wahls, who is also a regular HuffPost Gay Voices blogger, notes. "Under the eligibility requirements listed on the Verizon Foundation's website, the company says it will NOT fund organizations that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. But in 2010, Verizon gave more than $315,000 in grants to the Boy Scouts, despite the Scouts' policy banning gay youth and leaders from participating."
He then concludes: "Intel Corporation and UPS, two large corporate donors of the Boy Scouts, recently announced that they've updated their funding guidelines to reject organizations that discriminate -- including the Boy Scouts. Now it's time for Verizon to do the same."
In July, BSA reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays from participating as scouts or troop leaders, citing support from parents as a key incentive. "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," the Scouts' chief executive Bob Mazzuca told the Associated Press. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."
The issue had been brought the forefront again after the case of Jennifer Tyrrell, the Ohio-based mother who was forced to resign as den leader of her son's Tiger Scout group because she is a lesbian.