P-FLAG Targets Salvation Army

By Price, Joyce Howard | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 10, 2001 | Go to article overview

P-FLAG Targets Salvation Army


Price, Joyce Howard, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Joyce Howard Price

Some homosexual rights activists throughout the country are putting phony $5 bills in Salvation Army kettles this holiday season to protest the charity's repeal of health benefits for domestic partners of homosexual employees in 13 Western states.

In West Hollywood, Calif., a City Council member even sought to ban the kettles because of the Army's decision to scrap domestic-partner benefits.

"His proposal was tabled until January," after the Christmas fund-raising season, said Maj. George E. Hood, national spokesman for the Salvation Army.

The major and other Salvation Army officials acknowledge concern that the 136-year-old church and charity could be "perceived as an organization of hate and bigotry" as a result of a campaign on the Internet by a group called Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, or P-FLAG.

Maj. Hood said he would not want to see his organization join the Boy Scouts of America as a major target of the homosexual rights movement.

"That's a long-term concern, for sure," he said in an interview.

Maj. Hood said that at this time the protest campaign is "mostly in the Midwest" in Michigan, Chicago and Kansas City, Mo., which are part of the Salvation Army's central territory. But there have also been scattered reports of P-FLAG's phony money - printed with messages that accuse the Salvation Army of discrimination - turning up in kettles in at least three of the organization's other four territories.

Cynthia Newcomer, spokeswoman for P-FLAG, said the group's campaign was conceived by the P-FLAG affiliate in Genesee County, Mich., and has "taken off like wildfire."

Ms. Newcomer said P-FLAG boasts 80,000 members and 470 local chapters. "We've gotten hundreds of e-mails from places that include Waco, Texas; Flint, Mich.; Houston and Chicago," she said.

Ms. Newcomer said the intent of the campaign is to "encourage people to divert their charitable dollars to groups that don't discriminate."

The phony bucks P-FLAG has printed up say: "I would have donated five dollars, but the Salvation Army decision to discriminate against gay and lesbian employees prevents my donation now and in the future."

The Salvation Army strongly denies it discriminates against homosexual employees.

Its decision to kill the policy of providing domestic-partner benefits for employees in the western territory affects not only homosexuals and lesbians, but also those non-spousal adults who live with employees - such as heterosexual partners, parents, grandparents or care givers. …

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