Thursday, November 29, 2012

A little bit of history: The Salvation Army Kettle "Dollars" Protest

I am still hearing about folks using Salvation Army kettle "dollars" to let the Salvation Army know of their disapproval regarding the organization's homophobic/transphobic policies.

The first Salvation Army kettle protest "dollars" that I know of were created in November 2001 by Mary Scholl, then President of the PFLAG Genesee County, MI chapter. The graphic and the chapter's "Letters and Information Concerning our Salvation Army Project" used to be on the chapter's website but I couldn't find them there now. And this article below is not now on website that I could find with the site's search, but I had it saved, so here it is:

Secret Service investigating PFLAG protest
The Advocate, 12/28/01

The U.S. Secret Service has launched an investigation after some Michigan gay rights advocates placed slips of paper resembling dollar bills into Salvation Army donation kettles as a sign of protest against the organization's refusal to extend benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees.

A Michigan chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays mounted the protest at the start of the holiday season.

Many members placed "reminder bills" into the army's Christmas collection kettles instead of an actual cash donation.

The fake bills read, in part, "I would have donated $5, but the Salvation Army's decision to discriminate against gay and lesbian employees prevents my donation now and in the future."

But some of the reminders may have looked a little too much like real money. Salvation Army officials in Flint, where the protest began, said they were contacted by a Secret Service agent investigating the phony bills as possible counterfeiting.

"[The agent] was quite concerned," said Maj. Ralph Bukiewicz, Genesee County Salvation Army commander. "In addition to some of the standardized slips that were dropped into the kettles, there were some from PFLAG that had actually duplicated [currency], changing some of the wording."

Protest organizer Mary Scholl, who is president of the Genesee County chapter of PFLAG, said that another Secret Service agent left his card on her door before Christmas, but she has not contacted him yet.

Scholl said the protest bill, which was available for downloading from PFLAG's Web site, had obvious differences in appearance from actual currency. "It looks like a dollar bill, but it's very small, with a little square that looks like a rainbow," she said.

Secret Service officials declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.


And there is was an update which is also posted here:,3.html

The slips were similar in design to a one-dollar bill but smaller, emblazoned with a rainbow logo, printed on only one side, and in no way mistakable for United States currency. Nevertheless, a few days before Christmas, Mary Scholl, the president of the Genesee County PFLAG chapter, came home to find on her door the card of a United States Secret Service agent, instructing her to call him. (The Secret Service is the agency in charge of investigations of counterfeiting.) Instead, Scholl--refusing to be intimidated--consulted a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union. No prosecution of PFLAG members occurred.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dodging Puddles - by Noel Clayton

Our son Noel Clayton wrote and posted this on Facebook on October 31, 2012. I have his permission to share it, and I added the photos of Noel and Bill...


I missed it. Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a milestone came and went without comment.

Many runners will tell you of the healing power of running, that when we get out on the road we can let go of all the little stresses and worries in our life and just live in the moment for a little while. But sometimes it backfires. Sometimes, on a solo run in the rain, your mind begins to wander, and you remember something you have tried to forget.

It was a date that I never marked on a calendar, the answer to a math problem done entirely in my head because even as I worked it out I knew I didn't want to remember it. Back in January, I realized it had been 17 years, but I couldn't let it go at that. You can't ignore the extra days. So, 17 years and 105 days later, on an unremarkable day in August 2012, my brother's absence from my life surpassed the length of his presence on earth and I was mercifully unaware.

But the memory caught up with me, and I found myself dodging puddles and wondering what my life would be like if he hadn't swallowed those pills over 17 years ago and ended his own life. Would I still be me without the absence I've lived with for so long? And what about my family? My parents were always activists, but would they have become such seemingly tireless crusaders in support of a beloved and still living son? How many families are better off today because of the outreach, support, kindness and courage they have shared so generously. A flame not sparked, but certainly fanned by their loss.

Without the work that they have done, would this state be on the verge of fully legalizing gay marriage next week?

But then I remember that mischievous grin, that boundless energy, that incredible stubbornness. I remember the boy who could never give up on an argument, no matter how absurd. The 13 year old who organized a walkout of fellow students to protest a war. And I remember the young man who stood up in front of a crowd just days after he was brutally beaten because of his sexuality and told them that no one should be forced to bear those scars.

And I know that the world cannot possibly be a better place with him gone. The brother I remember would not have settled for 17 more years of being a second class citizen. He would have fought the crusade himself and brought us all along with him.

Those who know me will know that I have not taken on the role of a crusader. I do my part in subtler ways and make an art of silence. But today, with this forgotten milestone weighing on my chest and the image of his face before my eyes I can't stay silent.

So I'm asking you all to cast your votes to support marriage equality in Washington and Maine and Minnesota and Maryland. And to support candidates who will stand on the right side of history on the issue of gay rights. Because it is time. It is long past time for us to stop treating people as something less simply because of who they love.

It is time to make a change.

For Bill.