Several pillars of the community are at odds with the boy Scouts of America, saying it discriminates against homosexuals, and now religious fundamentalists, politicians and gays have joined the fray.

Ranged on one side are blue jeansmaker Levi Strauss & Co., Wells Fargo Bank - successor to the old stage coach company - and the San Francisco area branch of the United Way charity.On the other side are the Scouts, who say barring gays is not deliberate discrimination because it is against the Scout oath to be a homosexual.

A fifth player, Bank of America, seems unable to make up its mind.

If the situation were not complicated enough, the men who run the three private corporations are all ex-Scouts, and the daughter of the founder of the Boy Scouts of America says her father never intended to bar gays from the movement.

The battle began earlier this year when Levi Strauss, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and the local United Way decided to withhold their charitable contributions to the Scouts, saying the group violated their non-discrimination policies.

Until then Strauss had given about $60,000 a year, Wells Fargo $30,000 and Bank of America $18,000. The Bay Area United Way's contribution had been a whopping $780,000 a year.

Although all four cut off their funding quietly, without any public annoucement, fundamentalist religious groups and Christian radio stations learned about it and urged a boycott of the three corporations, without mentioning United Way.

Then the politicians got in on the act, making it a very public issue, and the boycott was joined by letter-writing and leaflet campaigns.

"Levi Strauss is punishing the Boy Scouts of America because the Boy Scouts will now bow down to Levi Strauss' demands to use homosexuals as Scoutmasters," declared one leaflet distributed by the American Family Association, a fundamentalist Christian group.

In August, Bank of America announced it was resuming its contributions. "The Scouts are eligible for charitable contributions based on our understanding that it's open to all boys," spokesman Peter Magnani said.

"That qualifies them under our policy, which is that we make donations to organizations that provide full access and equal opportunity," he said.

But Blake Lewis, national spokesman for the Scouts, said Bank of America was wrong in its understanding. The Scouts' oath he said, calls for "morally straight" behavior, which excludes homosexuality.

"If a person joins Scouting and then comes out and says that they are homosexual, their personal values differ from the values of Boy Scouts of America. An accordingly, they are removing themselves from membership," Lewis told Reuters in a telephone interview from his Dallas office.

Bank of America, which declined to comment on Lewis' statement, now has another problem. Having apparently appeased the pro-Boy Scout movement, it faces the threat of another boycott - by San Francisco's powerful gay groups.

Levi Strauss, the local United Way and Wells Fargo are sticking to their guns.

Strauss spokeswoman Mary Gross said if there is a boycott in effect, the company has not felt it. Strauss is enjoying recored sales and profits.

Strauss and other holdouts have an ally in Virginia Boyce Lind, 81-year-old daughter of William Dixon Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910.

She said her father would not have kept homsexual boys or leaders out of the Scouts.

"It was founded for all boys," she said in a telephone interview from Palm Beach, Fla. "I'm sure my father wouldn't have wanted any boy to be excluded."

She added that he would not have excluded openly gay Scout leaders either.

"It's very good for the gay boys to have a good role model," she said. "They need it."

Lind's son, Bill Mueller, belongs to Forgotton Scouts, any organizatin of gay Scout alumni. Ken McPherson, a spokesman for the group, said many gay ment have been Scouts.