How the Salem mayor is turning anti-LGBT calls into support for LGBT youth

Since the city of Salem, Massachusetts announced plans to terminate a contract with Gordon College, a Christian University with discriminatory policies toward LGBT students and faculty, the city's mayor has been receiving many phone calls from anti-LGBT individuals expressing their disagreement with Salem's recently adopted LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. In response to the phone calls, Mayor Kimberly Driscoll decided to defend the city's pro-LGBT policy in the best way possible: for every anti-LGBT call she receives, she is donating $5 to the North Shore Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (nAGLY).

Salem's mayor, Kimberly Driscoll, took issue with Gordon College's "behavioral standards" policy which forbids "homosexual behavior" for both students and faculty. Driscoll told the Christian Post:

"This is in violation of the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that was unanimously adopted by the Salem City Council earlier this year. The city does not contract with private parties that willfully discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, marital status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation."

In addition, Gordon College has requested to be allowed to discriminate against LGBT employees. Recently President Obama issued an executive order forbidding federal contractors (companies who do more than $10,000 in business with the government each year) from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Because the college receives federal funding, this order applies to Gordon. The college joined a dozen faith-based organizations by signing onto a letter petitioning Obama for an exemption to his order, which would allow the school to legally discriminate in their hiring practices.

Because Gordon College's anti-LGBT policies violate Salem's anti-discrimination ordinance, Mayor Driscoll terminated a contract with the college that had allowed the educational institution to use Salem's Old Town Hall.

Driscoll's actions caused her to receive a lot of attention from anti-LGBT individuals and organizations, who attacked her and criticized her decision to end the city's contract with the college. After her office began receiving a barrage of phone calls condemning her decision, she decided to stand up for her city's LGBT-inclusion policy. In a letter to nAGLY, a local organization that supports LGBT youth, Driscoll wrote:

"I wanted to inform you that we are keeping a tally of these telephone calls and for each one we receive I will be making a donation of $5 to nAGLY, in support of your good work to create, sustain, and advocate for the policies and services that support our LGBT youth here on the North Shore."

Driscoll is also urging others to donate to the organization. In a post yesterday on her Facebook page, Driscoll announced that already in the last 36 hours $3,750 was raised for nAGLY, "funding that would not have existed without the actions of those who would seek to reject equality." She also wrote that "the single best way we can express a clear vision for an inclusive, welcoming, and loving nation, is by turning hate on its head and transforming it into a call for positive action and positive change."