Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)'s charitable foundation has decided to discontinue giving money to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
This comes on the belief that the youth organization discriminates against gays in its ranks and leadership positions.
The BSA's policy states the following:
"While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals, or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.
"Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics.
"The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path."
Back in July, following a two-year review by a BSA committee to evaluate "whether the policy was in the best interests of the organization...after extensive research and evaluations," it decided to keep its policy disallowing openly gay members from becoming members of its organization, as well as holding scout leader responsibilities.
The ban spurred a national response, including public disapproval by president Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Not accepting the decision, Scouts for Equality petitioned BSA's major sponsors to reverse the ruling. The group's leader, Zach Wahls, is currently lobbying Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) to stop its BSA support with a petition on the website Change.org.
According to The Guardian, the petition has 63,000 signatures to date.
In response to Monday's actions by Merck, Wahls responded via The Guardian, "I am thrilled that Merck & Company, a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical giant, has announced its foundation arm is immediately withdrawing funding from the Boy Scouts of America until the program ends its anti-gay membership policy."
Records have shown that the Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) foundation gave BSA $30,000 last year and $10,000 to the Cradle of Liberty Council.
The foundation said in a statement regarding its decision, "Merck Foundation has suspended all funding to the Boys Scouts of America. The Merck Foundation will consider funding the BSA again when the organization's inclusion criteria has been expanded.
"The BSA's policy of exclusion based on sexual orientation directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation's giving guidelines. The foundation re-evaluated funding for the BSA when the organization restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation. Merck Foundation has notified the BSA of this decision."
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)'s CEO Kenneth C. Frazier had been a boy scout and in June, he had been honored with the ‘‘Good Scout’’ Award from the Philadelphia Cradle of Liberty Boy Scout Council.