Portland Police Chief Mike Reese and Portland Fire and Rescue Chief John Klum plan to participate in a Salvation Army "Celebrity Bell Ringing Challenge" this morning, despite calls by some gay-rights activists to boycott the Christian charity.
Klum and Reese (who last month abandoned his plans for
a mayoral campaign) will compete to see who can raise the most change from passersby outside Nordstrom beginning at 10am. A Fire Bureau press release
encourages citizens to "drop a few coins or dollars into the kettle," and says the event raised nearly $18,000 last year for the Salvation Army's local service centers.
Although no local gay-rights group has formally announced support for the Salvation Army boycott, the charity's stance on homosexuality is getting renewed national attention
this holiday season.
The slow-boiling boycott campaign, which reportedly dates to 2001, is intended protest the Salvation Army's history of lobbying
against the application of anti-discrimination laws to gays and lesbians. Here is what the Salvation Army says
about homosexuality on its website:
Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.Just Out
, "Oregon's Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Trans/Queer Newsmagazine," endorsed the boycott in a blog post
late last month. Basic Rights Oregon did not respond to WW
's voicemail yesterday asking about the boycott.WW
emailed the spokesmen for Chiefs Reese and Klum yesterday to ask if they were aware of the calls for a boycott when they agreed to participate in the event. Portland Police Bureau spokesman Peter Simpson replied with the following statement bearing Reese's name:
"To my knowledge, the Salvation Army does not turn anyone away from services based on their sexual orientation. The Portland Police Bureau has had a long-standing partnership with the Salvation Army; the organization has worked with police specifically in regard to shelters for women and children, emergency services and social service aid to many of Portland's vulnerable communities."
Fire Bureau spokesman Paul Corah had yet to receive comment from Chief Klum by this morning, although yesterday Corah said he expected Klum to participate as planned.
Mayor Sam Adams' spokeswoman Amy Ruiz said the mayor feels Salvation Army does "a lot of good work in our city, including running the Salvation Army Female Emergency (SAFE) shelter, and the men’s Harbor Light winter shelter."
Ruiz also says the city's contracts for those shelters "explicitly address non-discrimination," including
discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Update 3:40pm Dec. 13: Corah reports that Klum raised $1,300 to Reese's $400.