Today’s letter – charitable relief organizations serve at their pleasure

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Dear Governor Schwarzenegger –

When wildfires strike, the last thing we want to worry about is keeping our family together. Unfortunately, charitable relief agencies have vastly different policies for dealing with “unmarried” family members.

When asked about “domestic partners” Stacey Grissom, media relations associate for the Red Cross, said “[the] Red Cross is a neutral and impartial organization and we help people who need help. So, we don’t help with regards to race, creed, color, religion and sexual orientation. We help people who need to be helped.” The Red Cross works with employers to locate information on victims’ nearest living relatives. “So in those cases where the next of kin is listed as a domestic partner, that would be a person who would definitely get benefits,” she said.

In contrast, The Salvation Army says “Where a man and a woman love each other, sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage. However, in the Christian view, sexual intimacy is not essential to a healthy, full, and rich life. Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy.” In addition, the Salvation Army refuses to recognize its very own lesbian and gay employees with domestic partnership benefits, and has terminated services in areas where local statutes require this.

With one organization, my partner of ten years and our two kids are treated as a family. With the other, we are considered strangers without access to reunification services or the ability to shelter together.

The only way to end this discrimination is to eliminate the differentiation. It is too late for you to sign AB 43 but it is not too late for you to come out in support of the freedom to marry.

Yours,

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