SEATTLE — A gay Eagle Scout from Maryland, a Seattle Scoutmaster who was fired for his sexual orientation and their supporters presented a 125,000-signature petition Wednesday at Amazon.com’s headquarters urging the company to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts of America.
Pascal Tessier, 17, of Kensington, Maryland, and Geoff McGrath, 49, say donations through the AmazonSmile program should be suspended until the Boy Scouts lifts its ban on gay leaders.
Pascal, who penned the petition and published it on Change.org, wrote that “Amazon’s website clearly states that ‘Organizations that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance… are not eligible to participate [in AmazonSmile].’”
Asked for comment, Amazon said: “Customers can select from nearly a million legally recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organizations on AmazonSmile. We rely on lists published by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the US Office of Foreign Assets Control to determine if certain organizations are ineligible to participate.”
Those that rallied to present the petitions carried signs that said “Exclusion is no solution” and “Amazon honor your policy, stop supporting discrimination.”
McGrath, a Seattle software engineer who was told in March that he violated leadership qualifications, held up the three-finger Scout sign and led the group in reciting the Scout Law.
Pascal earned his Eagle badge in January, and was likely the first openly gay boy to do so after BSA’s updated policy to allow openly gay boys to join went into effect that month.
He wrote in the petition:
As one of the country’s first openly gay Eagle Scouts, I know firsthand that gay Scouters (like Geoff and my older brother Lucien) can help grow Scouting. There is nothing in Scouting’s principles that conflicts with being LGBT–and the fact that Geoff and I are both Eagle Scouts is proof of that. Geoff’s Scouting units had his back, just like my Scout troop has my back. By removing Geoff, the BSA is depriving the youth in these units of the opportunity to be a Scout and they are telling all their youth that discrimination is okay.
That’s a harmful message for all youth, gay and straight alike, and it has no place in Scouting.
Pascal has said he plans to apply to be an adult leader for the Boy Scouts on his 18th birthday to “push the issue.”
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