LGBTQ advocates slam Buttigieg for past history with Salvation Army


Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is facing criticism online from some members of the LGBTQ+ community and gay rights advocates after images of the South Bend, Ind., mayor volunteering with the Salvation Army resurfaced online Tuesday. 

LGBTQ+ publication Out published a story Tuesday with some of the critical tweets, which spurred more pushback from some activists who called out the Democrat for volunteering with an organization that has a history of opposing gay rights. 

“I know the photos are two years old, but still, I can’t help but wonder if Mayor Pete just looks at what LGBTQ activists have been working on for years and then chooses to spite it (e.g. Salvation Army, Chick-fil-A, queer media in general, etc.),” tweeted Zach Ford, press secretary for the Alliance for Justice, with a link to the Out story.

The pictures are from 2017, when Buttigieg was volunteering as part of the Red Kettle Ring Off, an annual charity in which local South Bend officials raise money for the Salvation Army, according to a report from WSBT, a local CBS affiliate, from the time. 

Buttigieg’s campaign declined to comment on the backlash. 

Buttigieg has made history as the first openly gay major Democratic presidential candidate, and he’s the only openly gay candidate in the 15-person primary race.

However, he is not the only candidate who has associated himself with the Salvation Army in the past; Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) tweeted in November 2013 that he visited the Salvation Army in Atlantic City, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) held a signature collection for her presidential campaign at a Salvation Army in Indianapolis. 

Former President Obama also invited Salvation Army leaders to the Oval Office in August 2014.  

The Salvation Army has a history of discriminatory actions against the gay community. NBC News notes that several homeless transgender women across the country have reported that the organization has denied them shelter, and in 2012 an organization spokesperson suggested in an interview that gay people deserve to die.

The organization now has a section on its website devoted to the LGBTQ community and pushes back on accusations of homophobia. 

A spokesperson for the Salvation Army was not immediately available for comment. 

The organization’s director of communications, David Jolley, told Out in an interview last month that the group has implemented reforms and is dedicated to helping all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“If anyone needs help, they can find it through our doors,” Jolley said. “Unfortunately, as a large organization, there have been isolated incidents that do not represent our values and service to all people who are in need.”

Tags Barack Obama Cory Booker Elizabeth Warren LGBTQ issues Pete Buttigieg Pete Buttigieg the salvation army The Salvation Army

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