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Lembo Challenges Tax Deductions for Christian Organization That’s Anti-Gay Rights

by | Dec 1, 2016 5:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Civil Liberties, Consumer Protection, Legal, Nonprofits, Religion, Transparency

Christine Stuart photo HARTFORD, CT—State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who is the Connecticut’s first openly gay constitutional officer, announced that his office is investigating a Christian organization that’s against LGBTQ rights.

The American Family Association of Mississippi, which the Southern Poverty Law Center described in 2011 as part of the “most important anti-gay lobby in this country,”  is on an approved list of tax deductible donations for state employees.

Lembo, who serves as the administrator for the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving, said all recipient organizations, as a condition of participating in the program, must submit an anti-discrimination certification each year and comply with all relevant state laws.

In a letter to Tim Wildmon, president of AFA, Lembo wrote Wednesday that the organization certified that it’s in compliance with the state’s anti-discrimination laws, but published reports indicate its “so-called attempts to protect family values involve ‘combating the homosexual agenda’ by boycotting companies that promote equal treatment, tolerance and acceptance of all families and marriages.”

A recent AFA campaign on its website asks its members to avoid shopping at Target because it allows its transgender shoppers and employees to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Lembo also pointed out that the group has denounced Zales, a nationwide jewelry chain, for “normalizing sin” by advertising wedding bands for same-sex couples.

“The AFA has also spoken out against gay and Muslim individuals service in the U.S. military, and has equated homosexuality with pedophilia, disease and violence,” Lembo wrote. “These actions and statements are extremely troubling to me—not only as an openly gay father and spouse—but as administrator of the CSEC.”

AFA acknowledged receiving the letter from Lembo.

“American Family Association has received a letter from Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo,” AFA President Tim Wildmon said in a written statement Wednesday. “While AFA believes that all state employees have the right to donate to the charitable organizations of their choice, we are currently reviewing the letter and have no further statement at this time.”

Lembo has asked AFA to provide written documentation of its stated policy of non-discrimination, and documentation affirming that the AFA is in compliance with all federal and state laws regarding equal employment opportunity and public accommodations with respect to its programs, clients, officers, employees and volunteers.

Lembo also asked that AFA provide documentation demonstrating that the AFA is engaged in the delivery of charitable and public health, welfare, environmental, conservation or service purposes.

“We have a responsibility to donors to ensure that participating organizations abide by the rules and regulations of the CSEC, particularly those that ensure inclusiveness and protection against discrimination,” Lembo said.

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