Burlington, Vermont resident Danielle Morantez says she was fired by the Salvation Army after she raised concerns about sections of their employee handbook relating to sexual orientation and employment discrimination — and came out as a bisexual herself.
In a piece for The Bilerico Project, Morantez explains how she grew up trusting the organization despite its history of LGBTQ discrimination; she spent summers and many afterschool nights there because her mother couldn't afford child care, and felt like the people she met through the Christian movement made her a better person. When the Salvation Army offered her a job as case worker a few months ago, she felt like she could work there "while still being true to myself and my community." Everything went smoothly at first; she was praised for her work and told she was the "perfect fit" for the Burlington Corps. But everything changed after she met with another local social service agency rep:
...she told me as a "fellow Christian" that there was one particular local nonprofit - an agency that helps female victims of domestic violence - to which she never referred clients because it was a "liberal" organization. Her incorrect assumption about my religious views made me uncomfortable, but the fact that she would deny clients access to critical services because of the provider's real or perceived political leanings disturbed me profoundly. I made a mental note to look over the Salvation Army's policies to make doubly sure we weren't enforcing a similarly awful rule.
When Morantez consulted the handbook, she was disturbed by two passages:
"The Salvation Army does not make employment decisions on the basis of an individual's sexual orientation or preference. However, The Salvation Army does reserve the right to make employment decisions on the basis of an employee's conduct or behavior that is incompatible with the principles of The Salvation Army (15)."
"Rules of conduct are applied impartially at all levels for unsatisfactory conduct as well as misconduct. Unsatisfactory conduct covers, but is not limited to the following: ... Immoral conduct... Any activity, practice, or conduct which conflicts with or appears to conflict with, the interests of The Salvation Army (14)."
She signed the handbook because she needed the job, but soon felt compelled to write a letter to her supervisors in which she "came out as a bisexual woman, expressed my concerns about the aforementioned passages in the employee handbook, and attached copies of the same." After meeting to discuss the issue, her supervisors told her that the team unanimously decided it was totally fine to keep her on staff and that she had nothing to worry about. Relieved, Morantez went out to lunch to celebrate. But later that afternoon, her supervisors summoned her back into their office, eyes "brimming with tears" as they explained that they were forced to fire her. "Their superiors told them that they were not allowed to even discuss it with me - I was to sign an exit interview sheet and they were to immediately escort me from the property. "
Morantez ultimately found out that the Major above her two supervisors spoke to the Divisional Commander Divisional Commander Maj. James LaBossiere, who decided to can her at once:
He wouldn't even admit that he fired me only after my sexual orientation became known: the official reason listed on my employee exit form states: "...her personal beliefs and position do not 100% align with the Salvation Army."
Now, Morantez says she, her partner, and her child will have to depend on the same social services she helped other families obtain as a Salvation Army case worker. "I'd like Major LaBossiere to explain to my three-year-old daughter how he justifies any of his reprehensible actions in light of the Salvation Army's pledge to do "the most good," she writes. "Because firing someone for being bisexual doesn't sound like doing "the most good" to me. It sounds like a tragic failure."
I Was Fired by the Salvation Army Because I'm Bisexual [The Bilerco Project]
Image via Rob Byron Shutterstock.