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.
"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."