UC Berkeley Salvation Army Controversy: Students Call For Campus Ban On Organization Citing Alleged Homophobic Practices

The Associated Students of the University of California passed a bill opposing Salvation Army donation boxes on campus after a student accused the organization of homophobic practices.

With the bill's passing, the ASUC officially opposed the Salvation Army and urged the university to ban the famous organization on campus.

According to UC Berkeley blog Campus Reform, university officials are considering a campus-wide ban of the group. University spokesperson Janet Gilmore confirmed with The Huffington Post that officials are reviewing the ASUC request.

Matthew Enger, a student and gay rights activist, introduced the ASUC bill and brought forward evidence of the Salvation Army's allegedly homophobic practices.

Enger presented reports of discrimination at shelters and food kitchens, as well as evidence of the Salvation Army lobbying to push federal funds away from LGBT antidiscrimination programs.

"Dan Savage, a prominent gay rights activist, has reported that Salvation Army homeless shelters and soup kitchens discriminate against gay families and couples by refusing to offer charity services to both partners at the same time," wrote Enger in the bill.

Enger also presented an email from Equality Texas claiming that the Salvation Army may have contributed to the death of Jennifer Gale, a transgender woman who was allegedly denied access to a women's shelter.

"University of California Regents Policy 4402 prohibits discrimination by UC Regents, administration, faculty, student governments, University-owned residence halls, and programs sponsored by the University," wrote Enger.

"Cal is home to students of a multitude of backgrounds, including queer students, who may take offense to the presence of collection containers operated by a discriminatory religious organization," he continued. "And students may not be aware that their donations to the Salvation Army may be used in part to hire lobbyists to oppose sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination laws, or that the Salvation Army has a history of opposing equal civil rights."

This isn't the first time the organization has been targeted for its alleged anti-gay stance.

Seattle publication The Stranger published an op-ed by Savage detailing further allegations.

Earlier this year a Salvation Army official came under fire after he implied that gays should be put to death in an interview with Australian journalists Serena Ryan and Pete Dillon.

The Salvation Army later called the remarks "extremely regrettable," and has denied being an anti-gay organization.

"Most of the information fueling these concerns is based on outright false or incomplete information," said Lt. Col. Ralph Bukiewicz, commander of the Salvation Army's Chicago Metropolitan Division in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "But every year it seems to surface and recirculate."

The Salvation Army did not immediately return requests for comment from The Huffington Post.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated UC Berkeley was considering banning Salvation Army bell-ringers from campus. There are no bell-ringers at the school, but rather donation boxes that are under consideration.

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