December 19, 2013

Lockheed Martin ends Boy Scout donations over gay ban

The Maryland-based defense giant says the decision to ban gays as Scout leaders conflicts with its corporate diversity policies.

Defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is halting its donations to the Boy Scouts of America over the organization’s ban on gay adult leaders, the company said Thursday.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the company reviewed its philanthropy guidelines and decided it will not support nonprofit organizations that do not align with its corporate policies or its commitment to diversity. The company did not disclose how much it has contributed to the Scouts or whether it is cutting support to other organizations.

Lockheed, based in Bethesda, Md., follows UPS, Merck and chipmaker Intel in withdrawing support for the Boy Scouts over its no-gays policy in the past two years. In North Texas, Lockheed has more than 14,000 workers at its west Fort Worth aeronautics facility and 2,700 at its Missiles and Fire Control unit in Grand Prairie.

In a statement, Johndroe said Lockheed seeks to support nonprofit groups that value diversity.

“We believe engaging with and funding an organization that openly discriminates is in conflict with our policies,” he said. “While we applaud the mission of the Boy Scouts and the good things they do in our communities, their policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and religious affiliation conflict with Lockheed Martin policies.”

This year, the Irving-based Boy Scouts revised its policy to allow gay boys to participate, but it maintained the ban on gay leaders. The change drew criticism from both sides of the debate.

Johndroe said Lockheed was pleased to see the Boy Scouts revise the membership policy but opposes the ban on gay leadership. The company’s review of its philanthropy came at the end of the year as it re-evaluates priorities for 2014, he said.

“We’re taking a close look at all nonprofit organizations we support to ensure they align with our company’s core values,” Johndroe said.

Lockheed Martin, a government contractor known for fighter jets, has a record of supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender diversity in its ranks.

“Diversity and inclusion are woven throughout our culture and reflect our values of doing what’s right, respecting others and performing with excellence,” its website says.

The company has an LGBT Leadership Forum and sponsors the Maryland Corporate Council, an LGBT business- and corporate-networking organization. The company also just made the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 list of Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.

Agreeing to disagree

Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said the organization appreciates Lockheed Martin’s past support and respects its right to see the issue differently.

“While not a national sponsor, Lockheed Martin has positively impacted America’s youth through its support of Scouting in local communities and we are grateful for that support,” Smith said in a statement.

“We respect the company’s right to express its own opinion and appreciate its recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization. Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good.”

Lockheed’s decision was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In October, the Boy Scouts of America announced that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates will serve as its next president to lead its national executive board for two years. Gates was an Eagle Scout.

As defense secretary under President Barack Obama, Gates helped change the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay service members. He also served under President George W. Bush.

Gay-rights groups have praised the appointment of Gates and called on him to push the organization to end discrimination against gay adults.

This report includes material from The Baltimore Sun.

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