A Michigan mother's protest against the Salvation Army's treatment of gay and lesbian employees has grown into a fake-donation guerrilla campaign in the Midwest.
Mary Scholl, president of the Flint, Mich., chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), had the idea of dropping protest leaflets that look like dollar bills in the Salvation Army's holiday red kettles outside many shopping areas.
Other gay rights supporters have since adopted the idea as a way to demonstrate against the charity organization's recent about-face.
On Nov. 12, nearly two weeks after one of the Salvation Army divisions said it would extend health benefits to domestic partners of employees, the army's commissioners set a nationwide policy that gives benefits to legal spouses only.
In Cleveland, an activist group launched the "Queer Dollars Campaign" on Monday, urging consumers to copy and print the fake dollars for "stuffing" the red kettles.
Inspired by the phrase "queer as a three dollar bill," Anti-Racist Action of Cleveland designed a dollar look-alike (available on the Web) that has the number 3 printed in each corner. The bill's message promises: "When the Salvation Army ends its policy of religious bigotry against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, then and only then will this be a real dollar bill."
The Cleveland group is part of Anti-Racist Action, a network of youth groups across the United States and in nine other countries fighting "all forms of racism."
The holiday red kettle campaign, featuring bell-ringing volunteers who sometimes dress as Santa Claus, is the Salvation Army's largest fundraising event.