HARTFORD, Conn. – The state has removed a charitable organization from the Connecticut State Employees’ Campaign for Charitable Giving because of concerns about discrimination.
The American Family Association (AFA) refused to provide a copy of its required board-certified non-discrimination policy, Comptroller Kevin Lembo announced Friday in a press release.
The Connecticut State Employees’ Campaign (CSEC) Committee voted unanimously last week to remove AFA upon Lembo’s recommendation, the press release said.
The campaign allows state employees to make donations through a deduction from their paychecks. There are nearly 700 charitable organizations listed as eligible by the state, according to the campaign’s website.
AFA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1977 by Donald E. Wildmon, who was the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, at the time, according to its website.
“Since 1977, AFA has been on the frontlines of America’s culture war. The original name of the ministry was National Federation for Decency but was changed to American Family Association in 1988,” the website states.
On Friday, headlines on AFA’s homepage were:
- Target Boycott: Close to Reaching Our Goal
- Defunding Planned Parenthood on the Horizon
- Committing to Biblical Stewardship in 2017
- Girl Should Not Be Allowed to Join Cub Scouts
“Pursuant to Reg. Conn. State Agencies §5-262-3(k), charities that participate in the CSEC must have a stated policy of non-discrimination and be in compliance with all requirements of law and regulation respecting non-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, and public accommodations with respect to its programs, clients, officers, employees and volunteers,” the press release stated.
The application for participation in the CSEC specifically states that written documentation of a charity’s non-discrimination policy, duly approved by the organization’s board, must be available for inspection upon reasonable notice of the committee.
“I am grateful for the committee’s unanimous vote to remove AFA from the state charitable campaign – and I’m proud to live in a state that broadly prohibits discrimination, whether based on an individual’s race, color, religion, age, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, national origin, ancestry or disability,” Lembo said.
“The AFA certainly has constitutional rights to make public statements – however, the AFA does not have a constitutional right to participate in the Connecticut State Employees’ Campaign for Charitable Giving, particularly if it violates state and federal anti-discrimination laws and regulations.”
Lembo serves as administrator of the CSEC, an initiative to enable and encourage state employees to donate to charitable organizations. State employees donate over a million dollars every year through the CSEC, benefiting hundreds of charities that provide services to the homeless, children, senior citizens, as well as funding to cure diseases and protect the environment.
Lembo, who is Connecticut’s first openly gay statewide elected official, began investigating the AFA upon receiving a complaint from a state employee about the organization.
“The AFA’s public statements and mission not only appear to encourage discrimination against the LGBTQ communities, as well as Muslims who choose to serve and protect our country by enlisting in the U.S. military, but it remains unclear what actual charitable services the AFA provides that qualifies it to participate in the CSEC,” Lembo said. “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.”