That support has been significant. According to 2010 foundation tax filings, Intel’s contribution to Scouting was $700,000, and UPS’s was nearly $200,000. Two high-powered and influential members of the National Executive Board, AT&T’s Stephenson and Ernst & Young’s Turley, have publicly stated their intention to work within the organization to end the ban.
“As I have done in leading Ernst & Young to being a most inclusive organization, I intend to continue to work from within the BSA board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress,” Turley said.
Corporate donations provide a meaningful part of the BSA’s annual operating budget. According to the organization’s Annual Report for 2011 — the most recent year for which figures are available — “contributions and bequests” totaled just over $61 million, down from $65.4 million the previous year.
By way of comparison, fees — including registration fees for individual Scouts and Scouting units, from the troop to the district to the council — accounted for $96.4 million in 2011, also down from the previous year’s $118.6 million.
In addition to his corporate connections, Turley is also a member of President Barack Obama’s Export Council, which suggests the additional possibility of influence on this decision by the Obama administration. Like other U.S. presidents since Scouting was federally chartered in 1916, President Obama is the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America.
Last August, he and his presidential campaign opponent, Mitt Romney, both expressed opposition to “this policy that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation." And during a CBS News interview aired just before Sunday night’s Super Bowl, Obama repeated his feeling that gays should be allowed to be Scout leaders.
Officially, however, Smith said, “we have not discussed this issue with (the Obama administration),” noting that regardless of his position, the honorary BSA president does not have a vote on issues before the National Board.
Smith also takes issue with those who see the proposed policy change as a capitulation to special-interest groups.
“The decision to discuss the policy is the result of a long-standing dialogue within the Scouting family,” Smith said. “Last year we realized the policy was causing some volunteers and chartered organizations that oversee and deliver the program to act in conflict with their missions, principles or religious beliefs.”
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