Archive for December, 2010

The letter to the Salvation Army

December 24, 2010

I explain in this post what I’m doing, and I include here the letter I’m sending to inspire you to pick up your own teaspoon. (scroll down to the definition of “teaspoon” on that link.)

Salvation Army
Major C. Patrick Granat
Alameda County Coordinator
Oakland Corps
P.O. box 510
Oakland, Ca 94604-0510

December 23, 2010

Dear Major C. Patrick Granat,
In previous years, this envelope would contain my usual large annual donation to your organization. Please check your records to find out how much I have given for how many years. I want to explain what you did that makes this year different.

It has come to my attention that the Salvation Army discriminates against homosexual people they employ. I’ve discussed this with a surprisingly well-informed red kettle bell-ringer who explained that the Salvation Army quit offering benefits to domestic partners so it wouldn’t appear that the Salvation Army condones homosexuals being in loving committed relationships.

I don’t want to appear to condone hate or discrimination.

Your job requirements also discriminate on the basis of religion. There are other local charitable organizations that provide shelter and transition to stable housing without discrimination. I have re-directed my donations to one of them. I have blogged my reasoning publicly. I read that donations to the Salvation Army are down this year—maybe it’s because of the discrimination?

Please let me know when you change your policy, start advocating for gay marriage, or break with the national organization so that Oakland’s Corps can do the right thing. Otherwise, put me on your “do not mail” list and save a tree.



Why I’m not donating to the Salvation Army this year

December 24, 2010

As a collector of Oakland firsts, I offer a fun fact about the Salvation Army kettles: The Salvation Army kettles began in 1891 with Captain Joseph McFee hitting up Oakland commuters to San Francisco to put donations in a crab pot at the Oakland Ferry landing. And I explain why I’ve stopped donating to the Salvation Army.

Years ago, I asked an Oakland Police Officer who I should give money to in order to help the homeless. Police Officers get to see what is happening on the streets in a way that most of us don’t. The Salvation Army was recommended, and I’ve given them a large donation every year since. This year, a friend asked me to re-consider because the Salvation Army discriminates against gays.

They don’t discriminate against gays and non-Christians in delivering services because that would be no fun—you can’t convert someone who is already a Christian and not a sinner. They discriminate in benefits available to their employees. The Salvation Army decided to quit offering domestic partner benefits after only one month of doing so because they didn’t want to appear to condone gay and lesbians having committed loving relationships. The Western region of the Salvation Army was pressured by hate-your-neighbor so-called-Christian groups, including the rest of the Salvation Army. They now say that homosexuals must be celibate. The national Salvation Army lobbied to exempt themselves from laws requiring that they hire gays if they take federal funds.

Donations to the Salvation Army are down perhaps, especially in the S.F. Bay Area, because of their discrimination.

The City of Oakland has an Equal Benefits Ordinance that prohibits giving City contracts or renting City-owned property to the Salvation Army because they discriminate by not providing equal benefits to domestic partners.

Who else are you going to give to?
The Alameda County Community Food Bank is serving 1 in 6 residents of Alameda County – nearly half of them children and teens. They are trying to end hunger and go out of business, a goal I support and applaud (and give money to.)

A Safe Place domestic violence shelter provides emergency shelter and supportive services for women and children.

Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency includes homeless people in creating solutions rather than preaching at them. BOSS started when California quit locking away mentally-ill people in mental hospitals. They do many things for the homeless, including handing out hotel vouchers and arranging to use un-used houses.

A Street Spirit / Street Sheet seller (I’m sorry I didn’t think to get his name) recommended that I give my money to him, and if not him, the street papers. He also recommended City Team as a place to get a bed on a cold night (only $3). He said preach at you, so I expect they have the same policy of discrimination that the Salvation Army has although I haven’t verified that.

Don’t like those choices? The City of Oakland has some suggestions for homeless services.

The Bay Area has a 211 resource which lists shelter possibilities.

Related links
New York Times: Bay Area. The Salvation Army-Gay Dilemma: To Give or Not?

This link is a particulary good summary. Salvation Army Policy Decried: Bay Area officials criticize the organization for halting health benefits to domestic partners.

Related post The letter to the Salvation Army