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Army protested in Los Angeles

BY KATHY LOVIN – 

In the words of the Los Angeles Times, “it was an unusual demonstration.” Holding signs calling on The Salvation Army to change its recent decision regarding health benefits access, a group of approximately 20 demonstrators ­ gay rights activists, social workers, students and clergy members ­ simultaneously enjoyed coffee and doughnuts supplied by Southern California Divisional Headquarters staff.

Indeed, despite their disagreement with the Army’s benefits policy, most demonstrators still hoped that the public would contribute to the Army this Christmas.

When asked why the Army would greet the demonstrators with refreshments, General Secretary Captain Kenneth G. Hodder said, “We certainly respect the right of people to disagree with the Army’s decision. But that doesn’t change our commitment to serve.”

During the hour-long demonstration, Army personnel engaged both demonstrators and media representatives in helpful discussions of the issue. Said Hodder, “The time was well spent. We appreciated the opportunity to speak with people, provide complete information, and correct misunderstandings.”

Michael Nelson, a spokesperson for the demonstrators, voiced his strong support for the Army, even though he is also very concerned about the Army’s current policy. In speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Nelson expressed the hope that people would not curtail their traditional holiday giving so the Army could continue meeting local needs.

In a similar statement earlier in the week, the City Council for West Hollywood, Calif., amended a proposed resolution condemning the Army for its recent decision so as to exclude any call for civil rights supporters to boycott the red kettles this season.

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