The Lockheed Martin Corp. is cutting ties with the Boy Scouts of America because the group does not allow gay Scout leaders, officials told the MDJ on Wednesday.
“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,” said Lockheed spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
The reference to “religious affiliation” has to do with the Boy Scouts’ ban on atheist members.
Because the policies of the BSA “do not align” with the defense contractor’s, Lockheed “will withdraw all official, company-sanctioned support from the Boy Scouts of America, effective January 1, 2014,” Lockheed spokesman Johnny Whitaker said.
“This includes all company monetary contributions and company-sponsored employee activities with the Scouts like facility tours, on-site Scouting activities and events, service on the Atlanta Council’s executive board and employee volunteer activities on company time,” he said.
The company’s Marietta plant contributed about $25,000 to metro Atlanta-area Scouting activities and programs this year. The employee-giving fund called the LM AERO Club contributed another $30,000 this year, he said.
The BSA’s National Council this summer approved a resolution to remove the restriction that denied membership to boys if they openly identified as gay. That decision divided the community with churches such as Roswell Street Baptist in Marietta and Johnson Ferry Baptist in east Cobb cutting ties with the Scouts.
Lockheed’s Gordon Johndroe indicated the Scouts’ summer decision was a good one, but didn’t go far enough.
“We were pleased to see the organization revise its membership policy, but feel the continued ban on gay leadership conflicts with our corporation’s values,” he said.
Requests for comments from the Boy Scouts were not returned by press time.
Political leaders weigh in
Cobb Democratic Party Chairwoman Melissa Pike applauded Lockheed’s decision.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Pike said. “You put your money where your mouth is.”
Pike said no one should discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation, which she said people are born with.
“To discriminate against people who want to better the lives of children, you know, homosexuality is not equated with pedophilia. People need to make that distinction,” Pike said.
Pike doesn’t believe Lockheed’s decision will impact the company much.
“They’re still a huge defense contractor,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to make a large difference either way, but I hope for their employees who are either atheists or homosexual, they feel a little bit more proud to wear the Lockheed logo on their shirt knowing that their employer stands behind them.”
State Sen. Judson Hill, an east Cobb Republican who chairs the Cobb Legislative Delegation, has a different view.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Hill said of Lockheed’s decision. “I would hope that the leadership there at Lockheed would do their best to avoid engaging in the politics surrounding an initiative to harm the Boy Scouts, and support the Boy Scouts and their parents’ right to First Amendment freedom of speech and freedom of association as guaranteed in our Constitution, and by choosing to politicize some recent announcements to hurt the young people of our community is sad.”
The Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. Marietta operation employs about 6,300 people in its 8.9 million square feet of facilities located on more than 900 acres. It is the home of the C-130 Hercules, the world’s longest continuously active military aircraft production line. Another major program is the modernization of the U.S. Air Force’s largest aircraft, the C-5 Galaxy. Marietta employees also build the center wing assembly, a major internal skeletal structure for the new, 5th generation international multi-role stealth fighter, the F-35 Lightning II. Finally, Marietta workers construct new wings for the 50-year-old P-3 Orion maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.