The God Bless America Fund, which owns the rights and royalties to the famous song of the same name, has announced its decision to withhold funding from the Greater New York Councils of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) due to the organization's ban on gay youth and leaders. The Fund has donated around $100,000 to $200,000 to split between the NYC Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Greater New York.
The Fund follows the lead of corporations such as the Intel Foundation, the UPS Foundation, the Merck Foundation and more. Tax records for the New York BSA have shown that in the five years before 2011, donations, grants, and membership fees fell 36%. If the BSA continues to practice such discrimination, then all evidence points to this trend continuing.
The BSA plans to hold an internal vote on May 23 in order to determine the organization's official support for allowing gay youth, but not gay leaders, to join.
A spokesman for the God Bless America Fund, Bert Fink, spoke to Crain's New York but couldn't quote the exact amount being witheld. However, Fink made it clear that the amount was in the five-figure range. Mr. Fink also noted that the Fund has been very concerned about the BSA's ban against gay members and leaders.
In a statment released by the NYC Boy Scouts, the group said "We are truly grateful for the generous support of the God Bless America Fund, which has been transformative in our work, enriching the lives of hundreds of thousands of New York City children," and added that, "The Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America continues to practice non-discrimination here in New York City and strongly believes that both gay adults and youth must be welcomed in scouting. We support the proposed change in policy as a meaningful step in the right direction, and share the God Bless America's Fund's commitment to advocating for total inclusion."
Crain's New York noted that "Zach Wahls, a founder of Scouts for Equality, said that it's unfortunate that some troops may suffer financial hardships as the ban pushes donors to withdraw support. But, he added that if the boycotts hasten the end of the ban, it's worth the short-term pain."
"The impact on a youth is far greater when scouts tell them they aren't good enough because of their sexual orientation," said Zach Wahls.
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s orginal Change.org petition has attracted more than 343,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders. Tyrrell, together with GLAAD, has launched a new petition to urge the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to completely lift its anti-gay ban on both youth members and adult employees and volunteers. To take action on this issue please visit www.glaad.org/denmother. For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events, visit www.glaad.org/scouts.