Photo credit: Steph Brusig/The Seattle Lesbian.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a group dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry while seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society, has joined GLAAD and Scouts for Equality in urging Amazon to end its support of the Boy Scouts of America through the company's charitable giving program, AmazonSmile.
The AmazonSmile participation requirements clearly stipulate that eligible organizations are only those that "do not engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, discrimination or discriminatory practices based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation [emphasis added], or age." When asked why the company was not abiding by its own eligibility requirements, Amazon stated that the company relied on SPLC's list of hate groups to determine whether or not an organization should be removed from the program.
But in a letter to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos obtained by Towleroad, SPLC Co-Founder and General Counsel Joe Levin wrote:
It is true that we do not list the BSA as a hate group. We define a hate group as one that attacks or maligns an entire group of people, typically because of their immutable characteristics, or that knowingly spreads falsehoods in an attempt to denigrate a group of people. The BSA does not meet those criteria.
But the lack of a hate group designation for the BSA does not mean we condone the organization's discrimination and intolerance. The BSA's policy of barring openly gay adults from participation in leadership positions is inconsistent with the SPLC's mission of tolerance, its efforts to end prejudice, and its history of opposition to discriminatory treatment of gays and lesbians. [...]
We further believe that BSA does not meet the criteria for eligibility stated on your website, specifically that participating groups cannot "engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities."
There is no question that the BSA's policy toward gay men qualifies as intolerant - by anyone's standards, but especially ours.
We believe the BSA should not be eligible for AmazonSmile. And while we appreciate the fact that Amazon uses our hate group list to disqualify certain organizations, the lack of inclusion on that list should not be read as an endorsement. Thank you for your consideration.
Last week, GLAAD and Scouts for Equality joined openly gay Eagle Scout Pascal Tessier, ousted gay Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath, and local Scouts to deliver more than 125,000 Change.org petition signatures to the Amazon headquarters in Seattle, calling on the company to live up to its own policies and suspend its support of the Boy Scouts.