By: Nicole Lashomb, Editor-in-Chief–
’Tis the season. You may not be able to go out shopping without hearing the joyous ringing of that glorious bell that sounds for charitable good at this time of year. Too bad that charitable good does not include LGBT people, unless you are basically willing to denounce who you are. In the past, I’ve often donated to Salvation Army, the organization that proudly used its distinguishable red kettle to take my dollars, my gay dollars. However, in more recent years, I refuse to donate to the cause that works actively to ensure my less fortunate LGBT friends cannot utilize their services, regardless how much they are in need.
According to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org, the organization claims that its services “are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation.” However, after further exploration, under a subsection called homosexuality on the website, the group explains that services are restricted to those “who accept and abide by the Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” In order for an LGBT person to qualify, they must denounce either themselves or their families. Ostensibly, their doctrine does not allow for same-sex partners and their children, causing these needy families to go hungry or without a place to sleep except for the streets.
“The organization also has a record of actively lobbying governments worldwide for anti-gay policies – including an attempt to make consensual gay sex illegal,” Bil Browning of the Bilerico Project wrote last year. At that time, Salvation Army representatives around the world even called for the death of all LGBT people since it was not a part of their “belief systems.” In 2004, they threatened to close their New York City soup kitchens if the city were to offer domestic partnership benefits. Hmm. Imagine the implications here.
The Salvation Army has taken a strong stance on encouraging LGBT discrimination here in the United States too. “They have lobbied to prevent federal money from going to cities or states with LGBT anti-discrimination laws and, even worse, it goes out of its way to discriminate against vulnerable LGBT people during moments of crisis,” said Dan Savage via an editorial published at http://bit.ly/vRtdwJ. Additionally, the organization works to actively discriminate against LGBT people in employment, hiring and firing and promotion of benefits.
This year, America Blog is asking LGBT shoppers and allies to give downloadable “vouchers” to Salvation Army bell ringers in lieu of cash in an effort to let the organization know that “bigotry is not a Christmas value,” according to John Aravosis. The downloadable “voucher” can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/crh6tfj.
The bottom line is simple. Donate to inclusive organizations that support and embrace all walks of life. Alternatives include Goodwill, Toys for Tots, or other local non-profit organizations that actually represent what this Holiday Season and any other day of the year should be about … giving to those less fortunate. Concerning the faux “Christian” principles often cited by religious groups to discriminate against others, it just doesn’t sound evangelical. It resonates as pure bigotry and that’s why you won’t hear my quarters spiraling down that red kettle this year.
* Nicole Lashomb is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Owner of The Rainbow Times. She holds an MBA from Marylhurst University and a Bachelors from SUNY Potsdam. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.