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Merck Pulls Boy Scouts Funding on the Basis of Discrimination

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The Merck Company Foundation, the charitable arm of pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck and Company, announced last week it was halting all contributions to the Boy Scouts of America until that organization ceases discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Merck’s decision follows announcements by the UPS Foundation and the Intel Foundation that they would stop donating to Boy Scout groups that engage in discrimination.

Merck spokesperson Kelley Dougherty told The American Independent that the company began to evaluate its corporate giving policies in July because of the Boy Scouts stance on sexual orientation. News of other corporate foundations that have halted funding for the Boy Scouts were not a part of Merck’s decision-making, she said.

In a letter obtained by Scouts for Equality, Merck Foundation vice president Brian Grill noted that the change would affect all levels of giving at Merck, including “direct funding from the Merck Foundation, the matching of gifts from Merck employees, and paid time off for volunteering.”

Grill added that the new policy would apply to all organizations that are not in line with Merck’s guidelines. “As part of the broader review of funding decisions in 2013, the Foundation is currently assessing all current and future funding commitments to ensure that it is not funding organizations with policies contrary to its own,” he wrote.

In 2011, the Merck Foundation gave $25,000 to the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts, which serves American youth living overseas, including children of members of the armed services and American diplomats. Merck also gave $5,000 to the Boy Scouts’ National Youth Leadership Training program.

In the first quarter of 2012, Merck gave $10,000 to the Boy Scouts’ Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia. The grant went toward a 2012 gala to honor Merck CEO Ken Fraizer with the “Good Scout Award.”

LGBT rights groups praised the decisions made by Merck, Intel and UPS.

“These companies are helping to bring change to the Boy Scouts of America by speaking out against the discriminatory policy and in support of the young people who are harmed by it.,” Herndon Graddick, president of GLAAD, said in a statement on Monday. “The Boy Scouts of America should take the health of their organization into account and focus making scouting open to all, rather than working to keep an outdated and unpopular ban in place.”

An investigation by The American Independent in September showed that many of the top 50 corporate foundations had donated to the Boy Scouts of America and its subdivisions in 2010 despite the Boy Scouts’ policy forbidding “open and avowed homosexuals” from participating in scouting.

Currently, a Change.org petition asking the Verizon Foundation to end support for the Boy Scouts until it changes its policy has garnered nearly 64,000 signatures. The petition was started by Scouts for Equality’s Zach Wahls.

In 2010, Verizon gave roughly $318,000 to various Boy Scout entities, despite the fact that the foundation’s grant guidelines say that in order to be “eligible for funding consideration, organizations must…serve the community without discrimination on the basis of age, color, citizenship, disability, disabled veteran status, gender, race, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, military service or status, or Vietnam-era veteran status.”

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