John Davis: Says Salvation Army does discriminate against gays

Friday, December 27, 2013
To the editor:

On Dec. 18 the Gazette published a guest column by an employee of the Salvation Army in which she asserted that her organization does not discriminate against gays and lesbians. This assertion is untrue.

For many years the Salvation Army has worked actively against the civil rights of gay and lesbian people. During the Bush administration they lobbied unsuccessfully for a waiver from compliance with local anti-discrimination ordinances. When cities such as San Francisco and New York passed non-discrimination ordinances requiring medical and spousal benefits for same-sex couples, the Salvation Army either closed programs to help the homeless or threatened to do so rather than comply with the law.

On an international level, the Salvation Army has been active politically in opposing gay civil rights and gay marriage. There have been numerous official pronouncements reiterating its view that gay and lesbian behavior is immoral. In 2012 a spokesman confirmed his institution’s policy that same-sex relationships are “against the will of God.” While it is true that the Salvation Army has recently adopted a policy of serving all clients regardless of sexual orientation, the same is not true of its hiring practices. In regions where the law requires non-discrimination the Salvation Army maintains that it complies. However, in regions where there are no such laws, the Salvation Army websites include the following language: “The Salvation Army reserves the right to make such employment decisions as are calculated to promote its religious and moral principles and practices” and “All Salvation Army positions of full-time service, lay leadership, employment, and volunteer service are open to qualified persons, with exceptions dictated only the religious purposes and moral positions of The Salvation Army.” At best, the Salvation Army reluctantly adopts a policy of tolerance when the law forces them to do so. At worst they continue to promulgate homophobic rhetoric and engage in political lobbying that demeans the dignity of gay and lesbian lives. I hope others will join me in supporting only those organizations that affirm the human value of all of our neighbors.

John Davis