HOUSTON VOICE • DECEMBER 24, 1999
Holiday giving: Are charities naughty or nice?
> Continued from Page 1
in 1999, making it one of the biggest recipients
of the local funds, according to Mario Gomez,
a United Way spokesman.
"Our United Way has a long standing partnership with the Boy Scouts, for the past 76
years," Gomez said.
There are no plans to change it, he said.
"Basically, our position is that each one of the
agencies which we fund has the right to make its
own decisions on internal matters," Gomez said.
But United Way does fund many important
charitable causes, including gay and lesbian
agencies in some cities and HIV/AIDS service
agencies, including some in Houston.
Montrose Clinic received more than $98,000
in 1999 from United Way and is expected to
receive even more in 2000 to fund HIV counseling, testing, education and case management.
United Way also provided about $121,000 to
Montrose Counseling Center this year; funds
are expected to increase to $124,000 in 2000.
Each of the nation's 1,400 local United Way
chapters makes individual decisions about
what to fund and whether to affiliate with the
United Way of America. While some United
Way organizations in California and the
Northeast have stopped funding Boy Scouts,
most still do.
Like Houston's United Way, the United
Way of America offers domestic partner benefits to the 190 employees of its national headquarters in Virginia.
The national group also has an employment
nondiscrimination policy that includes protec
tion based on sexual orientation and a diversity statement that includes sexual orientation.
The problem with Boy Scouts
Boy Scouts claims 4.5 million members and
1.2 million adult participants. The organization's
prohibition of homosexuals is rooted in the Scout
Oath that all boys and men must take to become
a part of Scouts.
Boy Scouts of America has defended its prohibition of gays by pointing to the Scout Oath,
which calls on scouts to be "morally straight,"
Some, however, contend that at the time the
oath was written, "straight" did not have the
same meaning it does today.
Whatever the reasoning, BSA continues to discriminate against gays, despite a New Jersey
court ruling against the organization in that state.
The BSA announced in August that it was
initiating a study into the causes of homosexuality and the consequences for funding if the
ban stays in place.
Officials from Houston's Sam Houston
Council of Boy Scouts did not return calls
seeking comment from Houston Voice.
Church, charity, army
The Salvation Army shares as much in common with the Religious Right as it does with
social service organizations. Nevertheless, it
received almost $1.6 million from the United
Way of the Texas Gulf Coast in 1999.
The organization provides much-needed
assistance to some of the country's most
needy people, but a conservative Christian
interpretation of the Bible has led to denunci
ations of homosexuality and a refusal in one
city to abide by an ordinance requiring recognition of gay couples.
Salvation Army in San Francisco turned
down $3.5 million in funding from the city of
San Francisco in June 1998 because the
Salvation Army did not want to comply with
an equal benefit ordinance that requires all
entities that do business with the city to offer
domestic partner benefits. The Salvation
Army argued that the law runs counter to the
group's religious beliefs.
The organization is still not accepting
funds from the city, according to officials in
Col. Tom Jones, a spokesman for Salvation
Army's national office, said that while it
refused to comply with the ordinance, that
does not mean mat gay men and lesbians are
being refused services.
The church's services are made available to
anybody, Jones said. The only qualifications
are whether the person needs help and
whether local resources are available to provide the help.
But the Salvation Army is a religious
organization based on spiritual principles,
When asked if the group has a written
position statement regarding service to
gays and lesbians, he said the Bible is its
"This is a sticky area for us," said Roian
Chambless of the Houston Salvation Army. "We
have a certain religious belief and we also have
a belief that we should help anyone."
The Salvation Army is not just a charity but
also a conservative Christian church, complete with worship services and an organizational model structured after the military.
The church believes in an 11-point doctrine that is similar to policies of many conservative Christian churches. The doctrine
states that they believe in one, three-part
God made up of the Father, the Son and the
United Way of the Texas
2200 N. Loop West
Houston, Texas 77018
Pi Salvation Army of
1500 Austin St.
Houston, Texas 77002
Sam Houston Area Council
Boy Scouts of America
Houston, Texas 77002
www. sa m houston bsa .org