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Salvation Army offers domestic partner benefits
The Salvation Army says it will allow its employees to extend benefits to any one adult in the household, including a spouse, family member, roommate, or other "domestic partner." This is a major change from its earlier policy allowing only spouses and children to receive benefits. Both secular and religious media are portraying the move as a victory for the gay rights movement. "The Salvation Army's acceptance is a major milestone for the equal benefits revolution," the San Francisco Chronicleeditorialized.

James Dobson is audibly upset. "I have a heavy heart today," said at the beginning of Wednesday's Focus on the Family broadcast, which focused on the church's decision (listen in RealAudio format). "The Salvation Army is the first evangelical church of which I'm aware to cave in on this contentious issue, and the decision that it's made now will have enormous influence on other Christian organizations and other Christian entities that have tried to hold the line on its moral and family policies."

A phone operator at the Army headquarters told The Washington Times she received 704 calls after the broadcast—she usually gets about 50 a day. Although Dobson said that Commissioner John Busby, head of the church, told him the new benefit extension would apply nationwide, Army spokeswoman Theresa Whitfield tells the Times that it only applies to 13 states in the denomination's western division.

The Army, meanwhile, says it still disapproves of same-sex unions—but there's a difference between its employees and its church leaders. Its new policy, says a statement quoted by the Times, "refuses to place civil unions for gays and lesbians on the same theological footing as ...

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November 2001

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