July 17, 2014 / 6:49 PM / 5 years ago

Massachusetts mayor in flap with conservatives on gay rights

Brit White dances on a float during the Gay Pride Parade in Boston, Massachusetts June 8, 2013. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

BOSTON (Reuters) - The mayor of a Massachusetts city has fired back at conservative protests of her move to void a contract with a Christian college that opposes U.S. efforts to protect gay rights, vowing to donate $5 to a local gay-rights group for each complaint call she receives.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll last week terminated a contract that allowed Gordon College to operate Salem’s town hall, after the school joined other religious organizations in appealing to the White House to exempt it from federal rules forbidding employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual discrimination.

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck took up the issue, calling on his website for readers to complain to Driscoll, whose city north of Boston known for both for its history of witchcraft - a major tourist draw today - and for its tolerance.

“Apparently, Glenn Beck is not happy about the city’s stance terminating our contract with Gordon College,” Driscoll wrote in an open letter posted on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

In her post she said her office had received more than 50 complaint phone calls from people who appear to be readers of conservative blogs. She vowed to donate $5 to Salem’s North Shore Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth for each call she receives on the Gordon matter.

“I hope these donations, made as a direct result of the persistence of those who would deny LGBT citizens their equal rights, will help you in growing and strengthening your organization,” she said.

Driscoll said the college’s stance on gay rights violated a city ordinance barring Salem from contracting with discriminatory organizations.

Gordon officials could not be reached for immediate comment on Thursday.

Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott

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