Bil at Bilerico has a great write up on this annual battle. Yes, the Salvation Army does good work. But so do the Boy Scouts. Both openly discriminate against LGBTQ children and adults, including employees.
Since 1986 the Salvation Army has engaged in five major assaults on the LGBT community’s civil rights and attempted to carve out exemptions that would allow them to deny gays and lesbians needed services as well as employment.
- When New Zealand considered passage of the Homosexual Law Reform Act in 1986, the Salvation Army collected signatures in an attempt to get the legislation killed. The act decriminalized consensual sex between gay men. The measure passed over the charity’s objections.
- In the United Kingdom, the Salvation Army actively pushed passage of an amendment to the Local Government Act. The amendment stated that local authorities “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” The law has since been repealed, but it led many schools and colleges to close LGBT student organizations out of fear they’d lose their government funding.
- In 2001, the organization tried to extract a resolution from the White House that they could ignore local non-discrimination laws that protected LGBT people. While the commitment would have applied to all employees, the group claimed that it needed the resolution so it “did not have to ordain sexually active gay ministers and did not have to provide medical benefits to the same-sex partners of employees.” After lawmakers and civil rights activists revealed the Salvation Army’s active resistance to non-discrimination laws, the White House admitted the charity was seeking the exemptions.
- Also in 2001, the evangelical charity actively lobbied to change how the Bush administration would distribute over $24 billion in grants and tax deductions by urging the White House deny funding to any cities or states that included LGBT non-discrimination laws. Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary, issued a statement saying the administration was denying a “regulation sought by the church to protect the right of taxpayer-funded religious organizations to discriminate against homosexuals.”
- In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to close all their soup kitchens in New York City to protest the city’s decision to require all vendors and charities doing business with the city to adhere to all civil rights laws. The organization balked at having to treat gay employees equal to straight employees.
So why would you support an organization, even with a few coins, that considers our community second-class? Do you really think they can deliver services without this bigotry leaking into the attitudes and behaviors of their employees? Really?
The Salvation Army has been one of a handful of faith based organizations (like the Catholic Church) that wants to accept federal funding to provide social services, but wants to follow their own rules regardless of the Constitutional and legal requirements that come with that funding. No one is obliging them to comply with non-discrimination laws, no one except their own CEO’s who decide to accept public funding. I just don’t understand why people think this is okay. I understand that there are often few choices for people who are in vulnerable positions, but when you walk out of K-mart – that is not you.
Here’s what you CAN do instead. Print these out and slip one into the kettle. Then give you money to an organization which does not openly discriminate and serves vulnerable peoples. Like Goodwill. Or a local faith community that welcomes and affirms LGBT people. Here in Pittsburgh, you can support Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Persad Center, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, the Gay & Lesbian Community Center and so forth.