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Caterpillar drops Boy Scouts support over gay ban

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm •  Published: June 13, 2013

The decision by Caterpillar was first reported Wednesday by The Journal Star in Peoria, the central Illinois city where the company is based.

The local organization that was turned down, Potts said, is the Peoria-based W.D. Boyce Council. It includes scout groups across a large part of central Illinois.

Council Executive Director George Clay did not return a call Thursday from The Associated Press.

Since the Boy Scouts' decision last month to allow openly homosexual children to be scouts, a number of churches around the country — which often sponsor local scout troops — have cut ties with the group.

But prohibitions against both gay scouts and adult leaders have long driven protests against the Boy Scouts. Last year, several companies withdrew financial support, including Intel Corporation and United Parcel Service.

The leader of a group of former Eagle Scouts that has pushed for a change in those policies said the pressure that the donation withdrawal could have on Boy Scouts was important. But Zach Wahls, executive director of Iowa City, Iowa-based Scouts for Equality, believes Caterpillar's decision reflects a broader shift in attitudes beyond scouting.

"This isn't a crazy, progressive company that's super liberal," said Wahls, who grew up in Iowa and Wisconsin, and whose parents are lesbians. "(Caterpillar is) very much a middle-American company and I think this indicates where middle America is moving on this issue."