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Discriminating Boy Scouts find friends in the Georgia legislature

Two wingnuts are proposing a bill to withhold state biz from companies that choose to decline to make charitable contributions that violate its anti-discrimination policies.

House Rules Committee Chairman Earl Ehrhart and Sen. John Wiles were teed off when the Bank of America Charitable Foundation wrote to the Alapaha Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America to alert them it was denying the organization’s request for a charitable contribution. In the correspondence, the BOA cited the Boy Scouts stance that gays in leadership positions cannot belong to the organization violated BOA’s non-discrimination policy.

In response, the Georgia lawmakers have decided that any companies that feel the same way need to be punished.

According to the action alert by Larry G. Sherman, Southern Regional Director of the great organization Scouting for All (founded by straight ally Eagle Scout Scott Cozza), it’s just bigotry, plain and simple:

Wiles and Erhart said they will draft legislation that will bar state government from doing business with companies that cite such “non-discrimination policies” when dealing with youth organizations. This ban would include Bank of America and its subsidiaries BA Merchant Services LLC, BA Venture Partners, Banc of America Investment Services Inc. and Banc of America Securities LLC.

Our duty as elected officials is to protect the constitutional rights of our citizens,” Ehrhart said. “When a large, out-of-state corporation tries to use its resources to stifle those rights and obligate certain behavior, we have an obligation to act. Georgians’ and scouting’s values are not for sale and should not be subject to extortion by any entity.”

“Bank of America, like any company, has the right to support whatever causes it chooses,” Wiles said. “However, the State of Georgia also has rights — the right to stop doing business with corporations who refuse to support organizations who exercise their right to freedom of association.”

Does this sound “impossible” in the 21st Century? Want to make your voice heard? Write the Congressmen at the addresses below! Pass on comments to the Bank of America Charitable Foundation by e-mail.

You may wish to raise some of the following points in your e-mail or letter:

* The Supreme Court determined that the BSA was a “private organization” in the 2000 Dale decision. The BSA decided to bar gay and atheist youth and adults from membership in the following year. In other words, the BSA elected to discriminate against gays and atheists.
* The BSA is the only youth organization in America that practices discrimination that is not run by a religious group.
* Federal, state and local governments, as well as most major corporations, have adopted anti-discriminatory policies in dealing with their workers, which include sexual orientation and religion.
* Private foundations frequently enforce anti-discrimination policies in determining which organizations to receive grant funding. It is up to the agency requesting funding to comply with the requirements of the foundation if it wishes to be considered to receive a grant.
* The “freedom of association” of Boy Scout units is totally unrelated to funding supplied by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.
* The proposed legislation effectively discriminates against corporations that enforce anti-discrimination policies in dealing with youth organizations. The proposed legislation amounts to extortion and is probably illegal.

Bank Of America stands by its policies. (Valdosta Daily Times):

“We believe these policies reflect and respect the diversity of beliefs among our associates,” Alex Liftman, spokesperson for Bank of America, said.

Liftman also added that the bank also respects the beliefs and values of their associates by matching any charitable donation to a non-profit organization made, even if that organization has been denied financial support by the foundation.

The policy was implemented Jan. 1 of this year after the bank’s foundation merged with the Fleet Foundation and the two policies were reviewed and joined. The bank’s rejection letter added that if the Alapaha Area Council, Boy Scouts of America departed from the current “discriminatory practices” of the national organization, placing the organization in line with the current policy, the request for funding could be reconsidered.

Contact Information:

Senator John Wiles

Representative Earl Ehrhart

Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Hat tip, Paul.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding