Pressure is intensifying for the usually LGBT-friendly Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to suspend its support of the Boy Scouts of America.
Pascal Tessier, the Maryland teen who received national attention in February when he became the first openly gay scout to receive the BSA’s highest rank of Eagle Scout, is calling on the online retail giant to temporarily ban the BSA from its AmazonSmile program until it reverses its discriminatory policy prohibiting openly gay adults from serving as scoutmasters.
Accompanied by his mother, Tracie Felker, and staff members from the petition website Change.org, Tessier spoke to reporters Monday morning in front of Amazon’s Washington, D.C., office. The scout, who faces expulsion from the BSA when he turns 18 this summer, announced plans to deliver 120,000 signatures to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters on Wednesday. The signatures were collected via a Change.org petition launched earlier this year.
Tessier and his group, Scouts for Equality, contend that the BSA’s policy violates AmazonSmile’s terms of service. Launched in October 2013, AmazonSmile allows Amazon shoppers to donate 0.5 percent of the value of their purchases to the charity of their choice, but the program’s “Participation Agreement” prohibits discriminatory organizations from participating. Specifically, the agreement states that organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation are ineligible. “We’re just asking Amazon to stand by its own policy, and its commitment to the LGBT community,” Tessier said in a statement.
Amazon has maintained that the program, which contains nearly a million 501(c)(3) organizations, already has an adequate system in place for weeding out undesirable groups. “We rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Compliance to determine if certain organizations are ineligible to participate,” an AmazonSmile spokesman told International Business Times in April. However, by that very measure, the BSA’s inclusion is still problematic, since the SPLC itself has been vocally critical of the Boy Scout’s anti-LGBT policy.
Reached by phone, a spokesman for Scouts for Equality said Tessier plans to travel to Seattle on Tuesday so he can deliver the boxes containing the petition signatures on Wednesday, at a time to be disclosed. Tessier launched the petition last month after Geoff McGrath, a gay scoutmaster for Troop 98 in Seattle, was fired from the BSA. The dismissal took place after BSA officials learned of McGrath’s sexual orientation.