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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Keeping Marriage From Gays Has Long Been a Focus of Chick-fil-A?

By Michael A. Jones -

Chick-fil-A's President and COO, Dan Cathy, went on video last night to address the ballooning controversy about the restaurant's ties to nearly every sector of the anti-gay marriage movement. If an organization is anti-gay -- Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, the Pennsylvania Family Institute, Exodus International -- the chances that Chick-fil-A has either donated to them, or worked with them via Chick-fil-A's charitable branch is darn near 100 percent.
But Cathy doesn't want you to think that makes his company anti-gay. It just makes them proponents of strengthening marriage.
"Heartfelt hospitality is at the core of Chick-fil-A. We want to welcome into a comfortable environment all of our guests, and this commitment is a daily focus," Cathy says in the video. "Last week, one of our local franchise operators in Pennsylvania made the decision to provide food to two upcoming February events billed to strengthen marriage. Marriage has long been a focus of Chick-fil-A, starting with my own mom and dad who are celebrating their 63rd year of marriage."
How nice that Cathy's parents are celebrating their 63rd year of marriage. Know any gay couples celebrating their 63rd year of marriage? Nope. And you won't until 2067 at the earliest (63 years after Massachusetts first legalized same-sex marriage in 2004). And that's because many of Chick-fil-A's friends work hard day in and day out to ban same-sex couples from getting married.
Cathy is obviously doing some public relations damage control, but after watching the video (which you can see below), it's a bit hard not to take away this message: gay people, you're more than welcome to eat our chicken sandwiches, but we're still going to give donations and partner with organizations that are fighting against your civil rights.
Cathy says this at the end, which is pretty interesting: "Chick-fil-A serves all people, and values all people."
It's hard to quibble with that first part of that statement, as it seems pretty clear that Chick-fil-A won't turn away any customers from the register. But then again, that's never been the issue here.
But the "values all people" part? That's a bit of a tougher pill to swallow. Because as has been documented extensively, Chick-fil-A has major connections, through its charitable arm, to some of the fiercest anti-gay organizations in the country. These include the National Organization for Marriage, the leading organization in the country fighting same-sex marriage; Exodus International, an organization that tries to cure people of their sexual orientation through therapy; and Focus on the Family, which once said that same-sex marriage was a bigger disaster than Pearl Harbor.
How can you partner with groups like this, and say you "value all people"? Because these organizations have no intention of valuing LGBT people.
One last point about Cathy's video: in it, he says that just because his restaurant might give food to these organizations, or work with them on strengthening marriage, doesn't mean that Chick-fil-A buys into their entire political agenda. And perhaps that's true on some level. But it certainly raises the question: how many LGBT organizations or groups fighting for marriage equality have received support or donations from Chick-fil-A? And when is Chick-fil-A's charitable arm going to convene a conference featuring the leading marriage equality advocates to talk about how strengthening the institution of marriage can and should include recognizing the right of same-sex couples to get married?
My guess is 2067 is going to come sooner than that.

Dan Cathy Statement from Chick-fil-A on Vimeo.

petition text -
Pull Chick-fil-A's sponsorship of February event with anti-gay group 

 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]

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