WASHINGTON – Defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is halting its donations to the Boy Scouts of America over the organization's ban on gays serving as adult leaders after a review of the company's philanthropy guidelines, the company said Thursday.
Lockheed Martin spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the company decided it will not support nonprofit organizations that do not align with its corporate policies or commitment to diversity. The company did not disclose how much it has contributed to the Boy Scouts.
Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed follows UPS Inc., Merck & Co. and computer-chip maker Intel in withdrawing support for the Boy Scouts over its no-gays policy in the past two years.
In a written 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, Texas-based Boy Scouts revised its policy to allow gay boys to participate in Scouting, but it maintained the ban on gay leaders. The change drew criticism from both sides of the debate over the anti-gay policy.
Johndroe said Lockheed Martin was pleased to see the Boy Scouts revise its membership policy but opposes the continued ban on gay leadership. The company's review of its philanthropy came at the end of the year as it reevaluates 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.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts, said Lockheed Martin was not a national sponsor but has had a positive impact by supporting Scouting in local communities.
"We respect the company's right to express its own opinion and appreciate its recognition that Scouting is a valuable organization," he said in an email. "Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to accomplish the common good."
The decision from Lockheed 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 soldiers. 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.