Caterpillar Drops Boy Scout Funding Over Gay Ban

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com June 14 2013 11:58 AM ET

The Boy Scouts of America's halfway ban on openly gay members — permitting gay youth, but forbidding openly gay or lesbian adults from serving as scouts or volunteers — wasn't enough to keep former corporate supporter Caterpillar on board.

A spokeswoman for the equipment manufacturer confirmed to the Associated Press on Thursday that Caterpillar has ended its financial giving to the Boy Scouts because of its discriminatory policy. 

The decision was not directly tied to the BSA's May decision to partially repeal its long-standing ban on service by "open or avowed homosexuals," Rachel Pott told AP, but rather came about after the Illinois-based company reviewed a request for $25,000 from a local Scouting council. 

"We have inclusive policies here at Caterpillar Inc., and the foundation abides by those," Pott told the AP. "We just don't feel that our two organizations align. However, if there's a change in the Boy Scouts' policies, we would certainly consider a change in the future grants — if there was a change that aligned with what our non-discrimination policies are."

Caterpillar had not made a formal statement announcing its decision, nor had it formally informed the Boy Scouts of America, according to the AP. 

"Although we are disappointed in this decision we believe Caterpillar is a great company and appreciate all it has done for the youth in local communities," BSA public relations director Deron Smith told the AP in an emailed statement. "Our focus continues to be on working together to deliver the foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training."

Zach Wahls, an Iowa-born Eagle Scout raised by two lesbian moms, who founded the inclusive organization Scouts for Equality, noted that Caterpillar's decision reflects an ideological shift taking place across the country. 

"This isn't a crazy, progressive company that's super liberal," said Wahls. "[Caterpillar is] very much a middle-American company, and I think this indicates where middle America is moving on this issue."