Following the publication of an internal document in the Washington Post, the Bush administration has publicly denied a request from the organization to exempt religious charities that receive federal money from local laws that bar discrimination against homosexuals, the New York Times reports.
Although administration officials initially noted they were considering the Salvation Army's request, the decision to deny it was announced on the same day that it was made public in the Post.
According to Salvation Army spokesperson David A. Fuscus, the charity was merely seeking a federal regulation that would have allowed it to deny the ordination of gay ministers as well as medical benefits to same-sex partners of its employees. The organization denies that it was looking for permission to discriminate against gays in its hiring practices.
Reaction to the document from gay and lesbian and civil rights groups was predictably negative. "Gays and lesbians are taxpayers, too," said David Smith, a spokesman for the anti-discrimination group, Human Rights Campaign. "Their money should not be used by religious groups to fund discriminatory practices against them."