more than two days to respond to the company's ties to an anti-gay group in Pennsylvania -- the Pennsylvania Family Institute -- but last night, the restaurant chain's corporate office finally released a lengthy statement on their Facebook page. The essence? Yes, a food donation is being made to support the Pennsylvania Family Institute's work to 'protect marriage' by a franchise as part of Chick-fil-A's community outreach efforts ... but please don't take that as anything anti-gay.
"To our Facebook community: First and foremost, thanks for your patience as we made sure we gathered the facts in regards to recent postings. We have determined that one of our independent Restaurant Operators in Pennsylvania was asked to provide sandwiches to two Art of Marriage video seminars," said the restaurant. "As our fans, you know we do our best to serve our local communities, and one of the ways we do that is by providing food to schools, colleges, civic groups, businesses, places of worship, not-for-profit groups, etc. At his discretion, the local Operator agreed to simply provide a limited amount of food. Our Chick-fil-A Operators and their employees try very hard every day to go the extra mile in serving ALL of our customers with honor, dignity and respect."
It's hard to quibble with the sentiment behind the statement, given that Chick-fil-A has a lengthy charitable track record in many communities. But if Chick-fil-A really wants to work hard every day to go the extra mile serving all customers with honor, dignity, and respect, does it gel with giving food donations to groups that want to deny LGBT people full equality? Because as others have pointed out, this isn't an isolated incident for Chick-fil-A. Next week they're sponsoring an event featuring the Focus on the Family Institute, and in the past have sponsored programs by the American Family Association and the Family Research Council -- some of the most vehemently anti-gay groups in the country.
But now the batter's getting extra crispy, because as Jeremy Hooper at Good as You uncovers, Chick-fil-A's charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, is practically joined at the hip with the entire "protect marriage" movement, from the National Organization for Marriage's Ruth Institute to "ex-gay" activists like Alan Chambers to David Blankenhorn at the Institute for American Values. Yikes.
The history of these groups practically speaks for itself. The Ruth Institute and the National Organization for Marriage have long been talking about how same-sex marriage destroys the fabric of society, and they've worked hard to pass legislation banning gay marriage or taking marriage equality rights away from same-sex couples. The Ruth Institute even made a splash last month by yelling at gays for co-opting the rainbow, saying "We are the real rainbow coalition. The gay lobby does not own the rainbow."
Chambers is the President of Exodus International, one of the leading proponents of "ex-gay therapy" in the world, and Blankenhorn was the "star witness" for proponents of Proposition 8 during the Perry v. Schwarzenegger federal case. And all of these cats, along with major players from Focus on the Family, seem to have very close ties to Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation.
Good as You even uncovered video from Focus on the Family -- the organization that has said same-sex marriage would be a bigger disaster than Pearl Harbor, and which believes that gay people can be cured of their sexual orientation -- thanking the leaders of Chick-fil-A, Bubba and Cindy Cathy, for bringing the "protect marriage" movement together. And then there's the President of Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation, Jeff Fray, thanking those who fought hard to pass Proposition 8 in California, particularly Blankenhorn.
"David did a masterful job articulating the argument (against same-sex marriage)," Fray says in the video. "I wish we had time for you to hear how he is reframing that issue and how we can get that message into the culture much more effectively."
Wait, so the President of Chick-fil-A's charitable arm wants to ingrain in the culture the idea that same-sex marriage is wrong and destructive? So much for the restaurant's promise to treat all customers with honor and dignity.
Check out Jeremy Hooper's amazing reporting over at Good as You here and here. Oh, and if you're in San Antonio this weekend? Check out the local protest happening to draw attention to Chick-fil-A's ties to the anti-gay movement, this Sunday from 4pm-7pm.
petition text -
Dear Mr. Robinson and Ms. Green,
I recently became aware that Chick-fil-A is sponsoring a February 2011 event with the Pennsylvania Family Institute on "the biblical definition of marriage." The Pennsylvania Family Institute has a lengthy track record of rhetoric that is very offensive to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, and in recent years has made fighting same-sex marriage a cornerstone of their work. Why would Chick-fil-A decide to partner with an organization promoting such values?
Indeed, the Pennsylvania Family Institute has called gay marriage a threat to civilization, suggested that same-sex couples harm children, and believes that same-sex marriage should be banned not only in Pennsylvania, but also in the U.S. Constitution. Does Chick-fil-A agree with this? And if not, why would the company choose to cosponsor an event with the Pennsylvania Family Institute on the subject of marriage?
I am very concerned about Chick-fil-A's sponsorship of this event, and will be telling friends and family about the role of the company in promoting the Pennsylvania Family Institute's anti-gay message. I urge you to pull your sponsorship from this event, and not join forces with an organization with such a lengthy track record against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Thank you for your time.
[Your name here]