Salvation Army to Lose Funding Over Domestic Partner Flap

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The Salvation Army of Portland, Maine, is about to lose $60,000 in annual local government funding for refusing to provide health care benefits to the domestic partners of its homosexual employees.

Unless it changes its mind and abides by a city ordinance approved last year, the Portland Salvation Army will lose the funding as of July 1. The army, which has been using the money to fund its meals on wheels program for the elderly, denies it discriminates against homosexual employees. Domestic partners of its heterosexual workers also do not receive health care benefits, according to the Salvation Army.

The Portland City Council approved an ordinance in May of last year requiring all city-funded community organizations to provide health benefits to the domestic partners of homosexual employees. At the same time, the council rejected an amendment that would have exempted religious organizations like the Salvation Army from the new regulation.

City Councilman James Cloutier, a supporter of the homosexual partner ordinance, said if the Salvation Army wants to receive funding from the city, "it's going to come with strings attached."

"Portland has a well established element of non-discrimination ... and this is simply a requirement that we have that all organizations that receive public funds are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation," Cloutier said.

The Portland Salvation Army has used the $60,000 from the city to help deliver approximately 180 meals a day to the elderly and to help operate a senior center used by about 60 people a day that offers a wide array of craft-making and recreational activities.

Repeated telephone calls to the Salvation Army, seeking comment for this story, were not returned.

E-mail a news tip to Oubai Shahbandar.

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