The Merck Foundation joined a growing list of former corporate sponsors that have stopped funding the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in protest of the group's anti-gay stance.
The Merck Foundation, the charitable arm of the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant known for drugs including Zocor, Propecia and Fosamax, announced its decision in a press release and a letter from foundation Vice President Brian Grill.
According to Grill's letter:
"The Merck Foundation believes that it is critical to honor and support a foundational policy of diversity and inclusion in all funding decisions. Recently, the Boy Scouts of America restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation. The BSA's policy of exclusion directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation's giving guidelines...
We cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs. We remain ready and willing to reconsider our funding position in the event that the BSA were to revise its policy."
According to Merck's website, the Merck Foundation was founded in 1957 and is funded entirely by the pharmaceutical company. The foundation has donated more than $700 million "to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with Merck's overall mission to help the world be well."
The Huffington Post reports that Merck joins computer chipmaker Intel and shipping giant UPS in cutting off funding to the BSA.
Following a two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America recently reaffirmed its vehement opposition to admitting gay members. BSA CEO Bob Mazzuca said that the 102-year-old group's gay ban covered adults as well as children.
On the same day that BSA announced the continuation of its anti-gay policy, Jennifer Tyrrell, a former Tiger Scout den mother who was ousted from the organization because she is a lesbian, delivered a petition to Boy Scouts national headquarters signed by more than 300,000 people calling for an end to the group's homophobic discrimination.
Curiously, shortly after BSA announced it would continue discriminating against gays it emerged that the group had deliberately helped alleged child molesters and child rapists conceal their crimes from both police and parents for decades.