Thursday, April 5, 2012

Buffalo Sabres and the Salvation Army Continued

I wrote on updates to the Sabres' relationship with the Salvation Army yesterday.  Today I received a response from Rich Jureller, Sabres Director of Community Relations.

Hi Alex,
My advice would be for you to speak with Major Hostetler directly to address your concerns.  He was very sincere in his willingness to talk with you and welcomed the chance to explain their position on any of the allegations.  I would be happy to let him know you will be calling on him to set-up a meeting, if you so choose.
As I said earlier, we are satisfied with their response to the issues that we discussed in our meeting.  We asked honest questions and I believe we were given honest answers.  If there is new evidence to show otherwise then we would take that into consideration.  Until then, they will be one of many community organizations that we will support next season - all of whom provide important services to those in need in our community. 

Rich Jureller
Buffalo Sabres
Director of Community Relations

So Rich answered precisely none of my questions from yesterday.  Reading into things a little bit, it seems that the entirety of the Sabres investigation into the Salvation Army was asking them "hey, do you try to break the law?  Do you discriminate?"  That's remarkably stupid and naive.

My major point of contention with the Salvation Army (at least since I'm going to disregard the allegations of discrimination as they want to play a game of "he said, she said" with them) is that their own website says the following:

"There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage."

So does it even matter that they comply with anti-discrimination laws if they believe a certain class of people is inferior?  If it was an issue of race, if the Salvation Army opposed interracial marriages, or integration, I have to assume (since Rich wouldn't answer that question either) that the Sabres wouldn't touch them with a ten foot stick.  I have news for Rich and the rest of the decision-makers within the organization; bigotry is bigotry, whether it's gays, lesbians, the transgendered, blacks, latinos, or anyone else.  My response to Rich:


I would like to meet with Major Hostetler, however I will need to get in touch with colleagues at Black and Blue and Gold and Rainbow Masochism and friends who write for other publications to see what kind of forum people think would be most conducive to getting answers.  I've been a sort of lightning rod for dialogue so far, but others may wish to join the discussion. 

I would also like to reach out to First Niagara Staff to see if and how they're trained to deal with LGBT issues, namely unisex bathrooms for transgendered individuals and whether or not orientation-inspired intimidation is treated the same as racially-inspired intimidation.  I've sent a preliminary e-mail to the info link posted on the First Niagara Center's website and eagerly await a reply.

However, my major point of contention has nothing to do with Major Hostetler.  The Salvation Army's own website states that they believe that couples like my partner and myself are inferior.  "There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage."  This is not an allegation, it is lifted verbatim from the Salvation Army's website.  (  (I'm not sure how the code is set up, that link may just take you to their home page.)  Why the Sabres have chosen to have ANY sort of relationship with an organization that believes that ANY class of people is inferior is mystifying.  The only credible answer that the Sabres, or that Major Hostetler can give to that would be to explain that the Buffalo Chapter of the Salvation Army diverges from the National Organization's views in that regard.  Otherwise the Sabres are supporting an organization that believes that a class of people is inferior.  I don't know that the Salvation Army's adherence with anti-discrimination laws justifies that, or if the Sabres can use that to attain any sort of credibility.

Looking at the big picture, I do realize that the Sabres have taken steps to show some support for LGBT individuals, namely Jason Pominville's contribution to the You Can Play Project and the Anti-Bullying PSA with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  Whether that's a fair exchange for partnering with an organization like the Salvation Army that maintains a belief that certain partnerships are inferior is something I can't really say.

Sincerely, Alexander S. Bauer

Overall this doesn't change my loyalties.  I'm rooting for the team, for the city, and for my fellow fans, not a bunch of cowardly decision makers in suits holed up in offices somewhere.  But I would like to be able to have a sense of pride in the organization, and right now I cannot.

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