The fast-food chain associated with making donations through its charitable arm to anti-gay hate organizations such as Focus On the Family and the American Family Association has apparently buckled — the dollar means more than supporting its bible beating homophobia.
Chick-fil-A has been in negotiations with Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno and Illinois-based advocacy group The Civil Rights Agenda over the donations of millions of dollars through WinShape, a non-profit funded by Chick-fil-A to hate organizations as part of a larger discussion about the chain opening a store there. They reached an agreement — Chick-fil-A will stop the donations and re-iterated a public commitment to respect its LGBT customers and employees. From The Civil Rights Agenda’s press release:
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, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage. In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.
“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights. It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step.”
Additionally, they have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.” This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”
“Although we are encouraged by their internal statement, we would still like for the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level,” said Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. “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. It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”
It’s not just about a chicken sandwich and waffle fries — it is a big deal. Now the fast food company needs to put its commitment into official policy, not just a statement (via Buzzfeed):
The company did not contest the report in a statement from spokesman Steve Robinson emailed to BuzzFeed on Wednesday — though it also would not confirm the new report.
“We have no agenda, policy or position against anyone. We have a 65-year history of providing hospitality for all people and, as a dedicated family business, serving and valuing everyone regardless of their beliefs or opinions,” he said in a general press statement emailed to BuzzFeed by another Chick-fil-A spokesman, Jerry Johnston, who said the company’s press statement is not new. “The genuine, historical intent of our WinShape Foundation and corporate giving has been to support youth, family and educational programs.”
I’d like to take a moment and ask all of those people who lined up for the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day and spewed bible-beating homophobia to justify the corporation’s open support for hate groups (insisting it was really just about ‘free speech” opposing marriage equality) how they feel about the company now. The bottom line is at the corporate level , Chick-Fil-A realized institutionalized homophobia is bad for business.
Because this appears to be a full corporate rollback on this issue, I imagine there’s a need for face-saving because the right-wing freakshow will be full-blast in short order. We’ll have to see when the company’s statement makes its way to the corporate site.
Response from Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign:
“If reports are accurate, this news is a big victory for all the people who stood up for equality and against hate. From politics to business to culture as a nation we are seeing a historic shift towards equality for all. While large majorities of Americans believe in equality, a few continue to discriminate against millions of Americans and stand in the way of progress. If true, today’s move by Chick-fil-A is a big step in the right direction. Discrimination and hate have no place in this country.”
Interestingly, the epically homophobic National Organization for Marriage put out this odd press release.
“Despite recent news articles claiming Chick-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation donated money to our organization—this is false. The National Organization for Marriage has never received funding from them,” stated Brown.
“We support Chick-fil-A’s philosophy that every person is treated with ‘honor, dignity and respect—regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender;’ and we will continue to endorse ‘Chick-fil-A Wednesdays’calling upon all supporters of marriage, free speech and religious liberty to thank Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy, for taking a courageous stand to speak out in defense of marriage and his freedom to speak,” added Brown.
For more on this issue, surf over to Lisa Derrick’s La Figa.