A Maryland teenager who became one of the first openly gay Eagle Scouts in February wants Amazon.com to stop supporting Boy Scouts of America until the organization lets gay adults participate.
“The main message I want to send out is: I don’t want to change Amazon, I don’t want to change the Boy Scouts,” 17-year-old Pascal Tessier said. “I love both organizations. It’s simply this one factor of what they have that doesn’t stand for the rest of what they teach and what they stand for.”
A vote last year allowed Tessier to be a Scout and be out, but with his 18th birthday coming in August, his participation in Scouting appears to be ending. While Tessier would like to continue with the organization as a leader, last year's vote did not overturn a ban on openly gay adults.
In front of Amazon's office in northwest D.C. Monday morning, Tessier announced he will take more than 110,000 signatures from his Change.org petition to the company's Seattle headquarters, asking the online retailer to stop allowing the Boy Scouts to benefit from the AmazonSmile charitable program.
Tessier cited AmazonSmile's guidelines prohibiting participation by organizations that discriminate.
"The reason this whole experience with Amazon is very important to me is, in part because it has a very close personal tie to my family because every other day my family is getting a package from Amazon -- my mom's ordering cooking ware, my dad's ordering books, my brother's ordering clothes, whatever it is," Tessier said. "But it's also because Amazon's such an influential corporation, and to have them supporting discrimination is against what they stand for."
An Amazon spokesman said customers can select from almost a million charities on AmazonSmile, which consults lists provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control to determine which charities are eligible, the Washington Post reported.
"The BSA has never inquired about the sexual preference of its members, employees or volunteers,'' Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith has said. "We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience, and our policies allow kids who sincerely want to be a part of Scouting to experience this life-changing program, while remaining true to the long-standing virtues of the Boy Scouts of America.''
However, Tessier has chosen to advocate openly for more than a year, risking the six years of work toward becoming an Eagle Scout. Although he had the support of Troop 52 in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., which has its own all-inclusive policy, Tessier said he wanted to speak out about the Boy Scouts' national policy after seeing other gay scouts or leaders were kicked out or denied the Eagle rank.
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“What I need the Boy Scouts to change is to not only allow gay members into their organization, I want them to accept them,” he said. “Because there is a difference between acceptance and tolerance.”