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Pete Buttigieg volunteered at anti-gay Salvation Army and everyone collectively eye-rolled

Josh Milton December 4, 2019
An old photograph of Pete Buttigieg ringing the signature bells of the Salvation Army has incited criticism online. (Twitter)

A 2017 photograph of Pete Buttigieg ringing the signature bells of the Salvation Army has incited criticism online. (Twitter)

US Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been caught in a crossfire of criticism after a 2017 photo of him volunteering for the Salvation Army resurfaced online.

The photo of the openly gay South Bend, Indiana mayor cheerily ringing the charity’s signature bells and collecting coins from passersby has ignited fury from queer activists.

For years, the Salvation Army has been dogged by denouncement for its well-documented history of discriminating queer people in need.

For the presidential hopeful, the snap is the latest picture scandal to puncture his campaign.

Pete Buttigieg volunteered for the Salvation Army in 2017.

Outside South Bend restaurant PEGGS, an old-fashioned American diner, Buttigieg was photographed doing something he’s been doing for years as part of town tradition.

Taking part in the Red Kettle Ring Off, an annual rite that sees public officials collect donations for the Salvation Army, local media reported in 2017.

Moreover, Buttigieg held a mayoral event at one of the charity’s centres in South Bend last year.

Although, fellow presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren did hold an event at a Salvation Army centre in Indianapolis.

But Buttigieg is facing renewed criticism for his involvement with the charity after a photo of him ringing bells resurfaced on Twitter yesterday.

‘Surprised Pete Buttigieg isn’t eating Chick-Fil-A in this photo.’

While supporters defended the candidate – reminding users that the photograph is from a few years ago – it nevertheless became a lightning rod for criticism.

Detractors noted that, while the photograph may be outdated, it was nevertheless taken at a time when the Salvation Army’s track record with LGBT+ right was widely known.

“Surprised he’s not eating Chick-fil-A in this photo,” commented one user.

Salvation Army’s record of LGBT+ discrimination.

The Salvation Army has a long history of opposition to LGBT+ rights.

In 2017 an official spokesperson claimed the charity had “evolved on a number of issues“, but actions speak louder than words.

In 2012, an Australian Salvation Army chief suggested that sexually active gay people should be put to death. And in 2014, the US Salvation Army was hit by allegations that it refused to help house a homeless transgender woman.

The Christian organisation is known to have internal policies actively banning gay people from serving as officers unless they remain celibate. In 2016, the UK Salvation Army chief admitted to and defended this policy.

The Salvation Army’s red collection buckets are a familiar sight on the streets at Christmas time (Tim Boyle/Getty)

Several transgender women have reported discriminatory treatment from the charity. One described the harsh conditions she faced at a shelter in Portland, Oregon, including poor physical facilities and unchallenged prejudice from other shelter users.

In 2017, the Salvation Army was at the centre of a legal battle against the NYC Commission on Human Rights after its New York rehab centres refused to serve transgender people.

They were found guilty of discriminating against transgender patients, and were charged with “gender identity discrimination” as well as “discriminatory housing policies”, which both violate the New York City human rights law.

In 2018 the Salvation Army warned its members not to discuss their opposition to LGBT+ rights in public, as further controversy could cause a “threat to our reputation”.

Here’s a few pro-LGBT+ charities you can support this Christmas instead.

 

More: 2020 democratic nomination, Pete Buttigieg, Salvation Army, US

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