The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a landmark for the gay community and its advocates. Men and women serving the country — and let's face it, dying on foreign soil — will no longer have to deny a key part of who they are. It's also timely in my life, considering something a friend wrote me.
After my last blog post, my friend, who is gay, left a comment that has me questioning myself: "They (The Salvation Army) have repeatedly refused to serve food or provide shelter to gays in need. Many people won't donate to their organization because of this," he wrote.
The Salvation Army has been accused of denying assistance to gays as well as discriminating in hiring practices, according to numerous news reports. After scouring old news stories, the most recent I found was from The Huffington Post, earlier this month. The article suggests that perhaps donations are down because of the Army's stance on homosexuality. While The Salvation Army is a Christian organization, it does take federal funding. Many evangelical organizations condemn homosexuality. The Catholic faith is a powerhouse of charity work, yet we know where it stands on reproductive choices and gay rights.
Here's an excerpt from The Salavation Army's website:
"The Army regards the origins of a homosexual orientation as a mystery and does not regard a homosexual disposition as blameworthy in itself or rectifiable at will. Nevertheless, while we are not responsible for what we are, we are accountable for what we do; and homosexual conduct, like heterosexual conduct, is controllable and may be morally evaluated therefore in the light of scriptural teaching."
Basically, it says, It's OK to be gay — but not act on physical impulses. So, it's not OK to be gay?
The mission of The Salvation Army is "To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination," and stands firm that it does not discriminate based on sexual preference.
For the record, I am for gay rights, and do not support discrimination of any kind. Personally, it annoys me that people care so much what others choose to do in their bedrooms. Aren't there more important things to worry about? Thus, I find myself in a dilemma. Am I making a difference helping the area's hungry and homeless while at the same time promoting anti-gay propaganda?
I have worked with other Christian organizations even though I do not believe or accept some key notions of the faith. I have volunteered alongside Bible thumpers as well as aetheists. There seems to be a unified goal among volunteers to help and not judge.
Because I haven't stayed in a Salvation Army-sponsored shelters, I doubt I will find out if gay people have faced discrimination. Perhaps it’s something to check out down the road. I would hope being a charitable organization, this would not happen.
Regardless, I will honor my committment this afternoon. To be honest, I don't know how to feel about it.
I encourage discourse on this matter though. Please leave a comment.