The Hill is reporting that “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is facing criticism online from some members of the LGBTQ+ community and gay rights advocates after photos of the openly gay South Bend, Indiana 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.
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.). https://t.co/zSYzlRLrOX
— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) December 4, 2019
The pictures are from 2017. They show Buttigieg wearing a red Salvation Army apron was volunteering as part of the annual Red Kettle Ring Off, an event in which local South Bend officials raise money for the Salvation Army, according to a report from WSBT. He also held an event at the Salvation Army in South Bend last year.
Buttigieg’s campaign declined to comment on the backlash.
Buttigieg 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 organization has a section on its website devoted to the LGBTQ community. NBC News notes several homeless transgender women across the country have reported the Salvation Army has denied them shelter. In 2012 an organization spokesperson suggested in an interview that gay people deserve to die.
David Jolley, the organization’s director of communications, told Out Magazine in an interview 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.”