Has Chick-fil-A really changed its mind?
According to a statement released today by The Civil Rights Agenda, an LGBT advocacy group, the Georgia-based fast-food chain has pledged to stop giving money to political opponents of gay marriage like Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.
You may remember that anti-gay comments this summer by the company’s president, Dan Cathy, landed the fast-food chain smack in the middle of the gay marriage debate. Gay rights protesters launched nationwide boycotts and staged same-sex “kiss-ins” at Chick-fil-A stores. At the same time, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee launched a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” where opponents of same-sex marriage turned out en masse on August 1 to buy chicken sandwiches.
And now the fast-food chain has apparently done a 180 degree switch.
From The Civil Rights Agenda:
In a letter addressed to Alderman Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” Winshape, a non-profit funded by Chick-fil-a, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups, including some classified as hate groups. In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.
Yes, indeed, the company has given out a lot of donations. A report from LGBT advocacy group Equality Matters found that between 2003 and 2009, Chick-fil-A donated more than $3 million to Christian groups that oppose homosexuality. In 2010, the fast food company gave nearly $2 million to such causes, according to the report.
But not so fast. Has Chick-fil-A really done an about-face? If they have, they must be prepared to prove it and reveal exactly what donations they are giving. I suspect that this may be as likely as seeing Mitt Romney actually produce his tax returns.
Then again, the company has used some very clever wording in their statement, saying that it “will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” Since most anti-LGBT groups bill themselves as religious, parent and concerned citizen groups, this may be an escape clause for the company. We’ll see.
Crucially, though, Chick-fil-A has not adopted an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level. Here’s how Rick Garcia, policy advisor for the The Civil Rights Agenda, puts it:
It is one thing for a company to say they respect everyone they serve and employ, it is quite another for them to put that into their policies and demand that all employees adhere to that behavior. As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal.
The Chick-fil-A story is not over yet. I mean, is it really believeable that Dan Cathy would change his mind overnight on an issue about which he obviously holds such strong opinions? I don’t think so.
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