The United Way chapter of Ventura County, Calif., has decided to stop funding local Boy Scout troops after more than a half-century of support because of the national organization’s policy prohibiting homosexual scout leaders.
“We were getting allocations from United Way of about $50,000 a year,” Dave Graska of the Ventura County Boy Scouts told CBS News late last month.
The charity had funded the Scouts for 57 years before it adopted a policy stating it would only fund “agencies that provide services … without discriminating on the basis of … sexual orientation.”
Dave Smith, president of the local United Way chapter, said donors supported the decision.
“The reality is there are a lot of people in Ventura County who happen to agree with our policy,” he said.
But not all donors were pleased, including some who donate large amounts to United Way.
Denny and Allyson Weinberg, who gave $100,000 to the United Way last year, were upset.
“This was very confusing, because this inclusiveness policy came out of nowhere,” said Denny Weinberg. “It wasn’t promoted, there was no press release, there was no letter to donors about this.”
Because of the chapter’s new policy, the Weinbergs have stopped giving to United Way and instead will support the youth group via Friends of Ventura County Scouts, an organization they began. So far, the group has raised $80,000, more than the United Way planned to give.
“People love scouting; it’s an American tradition. It’s like baseball, for heaven’s sakes,” said Allyson Weinberg.
The Supreme Court ruled in June 2000 that the national Boy Scouts of America organization did not have to accept homosexuals because it is a private organization. CBS News said since the decision, about 50 local United Way chapters have pulled their support – only around 5 percent of the total local chapters nationwide.
United Way of Ventura County did attempt a compromise. It offered to donate $50,000 to an educational group affiliated with the Scouts.
“We respect the right of the United Way to establish its values, just as we have the right to establish ours,” said Graska.
Shortly after the high court’s ruling, some homosexual groups began threatening the BSA with action aimed at curbing their funding. Some homosexual activists even taunted young Scouts at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in 2000.
The ruling also prompted Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., to introduce legislation – unsuccessfully – to repeal the BSA’s federal charter.