Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Update: The Buffalo Sabres and the Salvation Army

Some time ago I decided to send a letter to the Buffalo Sabres organization regarding their affiliation with the Salvation Army using the feedback button on their website.  After a week with no response I went to the contact I acquired when I questioned them about their upcoming anti-bullying PSA, their director of community relations.  We had a conversation today that was (I think) a step in the right direction.  Since nothing in that conversation seemed confidential or damning, I will post it in it's entirety after the jump.  My side of the conversation will be in red.

A follow up question - what is the nature of the Sabres partnership with the Salvation Army, and why do the Sabres maintain that partnership?

As you know hard times can affect people of any background, but the Salvation Army has made a habit of discriminating against LGBT individuals. Given what you've told me about why the Sabres have chosen to partner with the NCMEC, (avoiding excluding any groups) isn't any partnership with the Salvation Army hypocritical?

Additionally, if the Sabres continue to have a relationship with the Salvation Army, in essence operating in ignorance of LGBT plight and discrimination, can I expect to feel safe at the First Niagara Center knowing the organization has no problem turning the other cheek to me and people like me?

Each year the Salvation Army kicks off their holiday Kettle Drive by collecting donations prior to a Sabres home game in November.  I, nor anyone else in the organization (that I know of) was aware of any discriminatory acts made by the Salvation Army towards LGBT individuals until you referenced them in your email.  If those accusations are true then we will take that into account when considering our support of their organization for next year.  

Thank you for your quick reply, you've been very sporting in answering what are no doubt difficult questions about an issue that a lot of people are uncomfortable with.  To be perfectly honest, it makes me a little uncomfortable hammering the Sabres on these issues given my longstanding love for the team and organization, but I want to be able to take pride in my fandom, especially among my LGBT friends and family.

I've only recently become aware of the Salvation Army's exclusionary treatment of LGBT individuals myself as I've undertaken a more active role in advancing our image and treatment.  There are numerous instances of LGBT individuals and couples being refused aid, but what is probably most damning is the Salvation Army's refusal to provide benefits to the spouses of its LGBT employees and its threat to shut down NYC soup kitchens if held to a city anti discrimination ordinance in 2004 (showing they'd rather help no one than help LGBT). The salvation army has not had to adhere to the ordinance to this day.

The Sabres have shown a tremendous desire to invest in their community, one we can certainly be proud of. Hopefully there is an alternative to the Salvation Army that will benefit all those in need.

I'm glad you and the Sabres are willing to look into the matter. Thank you for your time and your responses which have been thorough and comforting.

Interesting and troubling information. 


Thank you for sharing.

It is difficult to read tone and sincerity into text, but I have faith that the Sabres will make the right decision and choose to end their affiliation with what is a very ugly organization. To do any would make them hypocrites in avoiding the It Gets Better Project for fear of being exclusionary. There are certainly numerous charities, local and national that are committed to helping all human beings.

I'm not sure if the Sabres will be forthcoming in publicizing where they want to go in their affiliation with the Salvation Army, but make no mistake, I will be following up on it.

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