Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
As a member of the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, I was dismayed and disappointed by the letter to the editor from the Rev. Cathlin Baker and Rev. Rob Hensley regarding the issue of boycotting the red kettles of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army has a national reputation of homophobic bigotry. Had I been contacted about this issue before the letter was actually submitted and been offered an opportunity to give input about this issue before the pastor of my church submitted it, I might have been able to enlighten her as to how many gay people are affected by such attitudes.
Though legally married in this state, my partner and I are still denied the same rights as straight couples. My partner has to claim all health insurance coverage through his employer that covers me as income and pay federal income tax on it while his straight counterparts do not. If one of us dies, the other has to pay federal inheritance taxes on our house and the retirement savings we have worked for all our lives while straight couples do not. We are not entitled to the same Social Security benefits as straight couples. The list goes on. If this list of inequities was applied to an inter-racial couple, people of conscience wouldn’t stand for it, and would be protesting, not supporting bigoted organizations.
Reverend Baker and Reverend Henley are two of our Island’s tireless spiritual leaders, but I think you guys got it wrong this time. You missed an opportunity to create something better. Wouldn’t it be nice to collect money for the poor without turning your backs on the gay community. Perhaps forming a new system of “green kettles” to pass Island contributions along to where they are needed, rather than working with a group that is associated with its homophobic national leadership might be a better option.
Let’s work for what is right, not just accept what is available.
David Geiger, Chilmark