White House Denies False Claims Made By Salvation Army
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The following is a statement by Kevin Ivers, Director of Public Affairs, Log Cabin Republicans:
Today, the Washington Post reported that the Salvation Army wrote an internal memo claiming that the White House made a "firm commitment" to them to issue regulations, as part of the faith-based initiative legislative effort that would countermand local and state laws on sexual orientation discrimination for religious organizations.
In the story, the White House publicly denies having made such a commitment, and a spokesperson for the Salvation Army is also quoted in the story admitting that they could not back up their claim in their document because "no formal commitment" had been made. The Salvation Army also clearly implied, in their internal document, that there was a quid pro quo of financial support for the effort in exchange for the regulations.
In addition to the public denials by the White House in the Washington Post article, White House officials have also assured Log Cabin Republicans that they never made any such commitment to the Salvation Army.
Here are the facts around this Washington Post article:
- The Salvation Army was given the opportunity, along with hundreds of organizations that support H.R. 7 – the faith-based initiative legislation that the White House backs – to share their views with the White House on the bill. The Salvation Army shared their views on this particular issue, the White House listened to their concerns and that was the end of it. No such commitment was made. The claims in the Salvation Army document were not factual.
- Salvation Army spokesman David Fuscus is quoted today by the Associated Press as backing away from the document, admitting that the White House "made no commitment to act," that the memo was not accurate but reflected "someone's opinion" at the Salvation Army, and that it didn't reflect the White House's strategic plans for the legislation.
- White House spokesman Ari Fleischer continues to deny the claims made in the Salvation Army memo, repeating today in a story by the Associate Press that they were not accurate. Fleischer added in public comments that the author of the Salvation Army memo did not have an accurate understanding of the White House position on this issue, and that "they've been advised of that."
- The President has said repeatedly on a range of issues similar to this – including California Proposition 22 on same-sex marriage and Vermont civil unions – that state and local laws of this kind should be left up to state and local lawmakers and the federal government will not get involved. This position was stated through the heat of the 2000 campaign and has continued to be stated by the President, the Vice President, and other administration officials to this day. In our discussions with the White House on this matter, there was no change in this position.
- The Salvation Army is an organization that discriminates against gays in hiring, and which clearly needs to justify the reported amounts it is spending on this effort ($88,000-$110,000 per month) to its supporters. It is also important to note that this organization blatantly admitted in the Washington Post article that when it had the opportunity to speak with the White House about a major national initiative to increase the level of support to the poor and needy of this country, that the Salvation Army's sole policy concerns and objectives in backing this legislation have nothing to do with its stated mission of feeding and clothing the poor, but to have even wider latitude to fire and discriminate against their gay employees. This raises serious questions about the Salvation Army's credibility.
One Salvation Army staffer's misguided memo became something akin to a child's game of "whisper down the lane" for groups opposed to the President. Once again, a long list of liberal special interest groups lined up, before checking the facts, to claim the White House was mounting a non-existent attack on the gay community. This was an unfortunate decision on their part. Earlier this year, there was the inaccurate report on the "closing" of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and the elimination of the AIDS 'czar' position, and similar actions were mounted by these organizations before they got all the facts. This is a strategy not based on building bridges, but based on firing off press releases first, and asking questions later.
We hope that the plethora of groups who attacked the White House today work to reach out to the Bush Administration and build common ground going forward. A simple call to the White House, getting the facts before they jumped to attack, could have avoided this day of misinformation.