Skip donating to The Salvation Army; donate to LGBT+ friendly charity instead

Salvation Army donation kettle. Photo provided.

Op-Ed by Jordan Redman 

The holidays are upon us. Stores are playing Christmas music, businesses and homes are adorned with twinkling lights and The Salvation Army bell ringers are front and center asking holiday shoppers for donations.

If you care about LGBT+ rights, you’ll skip their bucket in favor of a charity that doesn’t actively discriminate against the LGBT+ community.

The Salvation Army has a history of discrimination against the LGBT+ community. While you might think you’re helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, not everyone can benefit from your kindness and share in the donations.

We’ll start with the most recent offenses and work our way backward.

In July of 2017, a Salvation Army facility in New York City that provides substance abuse services was exposed as discriminating against the LGBT+ community after a sting operation by the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

The facility has been charged with “gender identity discrimination for refusing to accept transgender patients and for discriminatory housing policies, including assigning rooms based on a patient’s gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, subjecting patients to physical examinations and forcing transgender patients into separate rooms,” according to a press release from the city. 

In May of 2014, a transgender woman facing homelessness filed a lawsuit with the Fair Housing Office in Dallas, TX after being denied housing by the Salvation Army because she has not undergone gender reassignment surgery.

Jodielynn Wiley. Facebook photo.

Jodielynn Wiley had been staying at the Salvation Army’s Carr P. Collins Social Service Center on a temporary basis until she could be placed in a two-year housing program.

The Dallas Voice reported that when Wiley met with a Salvation Army counselor to discuss her move to the program, in which she would have to share a room and restroom with other women, the caseworker asked if she had undergone gender reassignment surgery.

“After I said no, she said, ‘Well, that’s why we can’t give you a room,'” recalls Wiley. “It was putting me in an uncomfortable situation and very rude.”

Wiley says the counselor then changed the story and claimed that there was a waiting list, but she notes that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after she did, already entered the program.

Protester next to a Salvation Army sign in Union Square, NYC. Dec. 2012. Photo provided.

In 2013,  The Salvation Army continued to remove harmful links from its website to religious ministries providing so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy, such as Harvest USA and Pure Life Ministries. These links were previously provided as resources under the Salvation Army’s section on dealing with “sexual addictions.”

In 2012, The Salvation Army of Burlington, Vermont allegedly fired case worker Danielle Morantez immediately after discovering she was bisexual. The church’s employee handbook reads, in part, “The Salvation Army does reserve the right to make employment decisions on the basis of an employee’s conduct or behavior that is incompatible with the principles of The Salvation Army.”

Later that year, Salvation Army spokesperson Major George Hood reaffirmed the church’s anti-gay beliefs, saying:

"A relationship between same-sex individuals is a personal choice that people have the right to make. But from a church viewpoint, we see that going against the will of God."

Message urging supporters of gay rights not to donate carried by a Salvation Army bell ringer outside the Tillicum Centre mall in Victoria. Dec. 2012. Photo provided.

In 2004, The Salvation Army in New York City threatened to close down all of its services for the city’s homeless due to a similar non-discrimination ordinance.

In 2001, The Salvation Army of the United States attempted to make a deal with the Bush administration ensuring that religious charities receiving federal funding would be exempt from any local ordinances banning anti-gay discrimination. Church spokesman David A. Fuscus explained that the group did not want to extend medical benefits to same-sex partners of its employees.

In 1998, The Salvation Army of the United States chose to turn down $3.5 million in contracts with the city of San Francisco, resulting in the closure of programs for the homeless and senior citizens. The church backed out of these contracts due to San Francisco’s requirement that city contractors must provide spousal benefits to both same-sex partners and opposite-sex partners of employees. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Love stated: “We simply cannot agree to be in compliance of the ordinance.”

There are more incidents to name, but you understand where I’m going with this.

This holiday season, I encourage you to give to charities that are LGBT+ friendly... like Human Rights Campaign, The Point Foundation, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Audre Lorde Project or the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Or you can donate to your local non-religious food bank in your area. 

Being an Oklahoma native, my donation dollars will go towards LGBT+ friendly initiatives in my area like Other Options, INC. and Freedom Oklahoma.

It’s important to support charity organizations that support our community.

The Salvation Army can ring their bells and sing empty words of acceptance and tolerance; however, actions speak louder than words.

Copyright The Gayly – November 22, 2017 @ 10:58 a.m. CST.