Californians protest pro-gay United Way decision

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 05 2002 12:00 AM ET

A Ventura, Calif., fund-raising drive protesting United Way's decision to stop giving money to the Boy Scouts because of their policy barring gay members has raised more than $30,000 in three weeks. The independent campaign was launched by community leaders and business executives who felt United Way had overstepped its bounds. Organizers of the drive said they will match every dollar that is raised. The money generated has already surpassed what the Boy Scouts' Ventura County Council stands to lose when the county's United Way chapter cuts off its funding next summer. The Friends of Ventura County Scouts has committed $100,000 to match donations to the local council. "Wherever your community happens to be, the Scouts are there," said Carlos Ortega, explaining why he and more than 80 others launched the group to protest United Way's "unwarranted and unfair" action. "At some point you have to stand up for the people who've been doing the grunt work in society and say, 'You know what, these are good guys.'"

United Way of Ventura County opted last year to expand its antidiscrimination policy, denying funding to any organization that discriminates based on sexual orientation. The action followed a Supreme Court decision in 2000 that upheld the Boy Scouts of America's policy of excluding openly gay men and boys from their ranks. The Ventura County United Way chapter is among 55 that have taken a formal position against groups that discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or sexual orientation. Each of United Way's 1,400 chapters operates autonomously.