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LGBT Activists Urge Christmas Shoppers To Boycott Salvation Army Donations

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — It's that time of the year when the familiar sight of Salvation Army bell-ringers and their red kettles make their debut at stores across the Southland, but one group is calling for a boycott of the charity this Christmas season.

Gay and lesbian activists have accused the Salvation Army of discrimination against homosexuals because of its affirmation of traditional marriage and other Biblical viewpoints.

Its statement of faith does affirm that "there is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage" — a position that has one LGBT activist urging people to skip giving to the Army altogether.

"We are urging a boycott of the Salvation Army because it uses its selective interpretation of the Bible to promote discrimination against LGBT people in employment benefits and leadership positions within the Army," said Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network.

On its website, the Salvation Army offers its services to anyone "without regard to sexual orientation".

"While the words are nice, their actions speak volumes," said Bill Browning, editor-in-chief of the influential LGBT blog The Bilerico Project. "They blatantly ignore the position statement and deny LGBT people services unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships."

But with more shoppers still unsure about the economic recovery, such a boycott could have a devastating impact on donations that were already down as much as 10 percent after the official start on Thanksgiving Day.

"It's a sad day in America when gay rights become more important than giving to the needy," said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute.

"Here's a better idea," he added. "The next time you pass a Salvation Army bell-ringer, why not thank the volunteer and put a little extra in the kettle to make up for the LGBT grinches who will not be giving this year?"

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