Election Section

Homeless shelter asks gay congressman not volunteer to serve meal

The Associated Press
Saturday November 25, 2000

TUCSON, Ariz. — Rep. Jim Kolbe was asked not to volunteer at a Tucson homeless shelter’s Thanksgiving dinner because he’s a homosexual. 

“This decision is based on your publicly announced sexual orientation that is diametrically opposite to admonitions in the Bible,” Gospel Rescue Mission board member Evelyn H. Haugh wrote in a faxed memo.  

“This mission is founded on biblical principles, and we cannot give a public forum to a public official who is blatantly flaunting those principles.” 

Kolbe, the only openly homosexual Republican congressman, downplayed the snub but said biblical teaching “tells us that no people should be made to feel smaller than others.” 

“It would undermine the very essence of Thanksgiving if the good works of the Gospel Rescue Mission and others were eclipsed in controversy,” Kolbe said. “The mission has provided noble service to (the) community and I wish it only the best in its efforts to feed and clothe the downtrodden.” 

Kolbe, a seven-term congressman who acknowledged his sexual orientation in 1996, helped serve meals at the shelter’s Thanksgiving dinner last year. 

Skip Woodward, board vice president, said Kolbe had been allowed to serve because “he just showed up and took us by surprise.” 

“Kolbe’s very public stand on homosexuality is inconsistent with our beliefs,” Woodward said. “We wouldn’t want anyone who advocated adultery to serve either.” 

Arizona Gov. Jane Hull expressed disappointment at the mission’s revoked invitation to Kolbe, saying “hunger sees no sexual preference.”