The Advocate also reported that the Marriage and Family Foundation, which shares the same address as the Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta, was investigated by Equality Matters and “was identified as the top antigay recipient in 2010. WinShape had given more than $1 million to the group in 2010 alone.”
From the Advocate:
The Marriage and Family Foundation was created as the “implementation and funding arm” for something called the Marriage CoMission, which Equality Matters says is host to an annual conference about the supposed decline of marriage. The conference has been attended by the founders of the National Organization for Marriage and Exodus International, which had once focused on changing people from gay to straight. The Cathy-family group originally was intended to contribute to multi-million dollar public awareness campaigns about its values.
Granted, the group’s sole focus isn’t on same-sex marriage. The CoMission emphasizes lowering the divorce rate and making couples more satisfied in their marriages, for example. But even in those instances, the group has made clear it’s worried only about heterosexuals being happy in their marriages and avoiding divorce.
However, backlash and a confusion about what the fast-food chain actually stands for and if WinShape was truly going to stop donating to anti-gay causes forced the restaurant Thursday to release a statement of “Who We Are” to the public. For the motorcycle ride fundraiser, The Advocate reported that Chick-fil-A was telling people to send their money directly to the organization — an apparent loophole in an apparent promise that WinShape would not make anti-gay donations. The restaurant continues to not give interviews however and has not responded to interview requests from the GA Voice.
The statement, titled, “Who We Are. A Response to Recent Controversy” :
For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized. And while our sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate, events from Chicago this week have once again resulted in questions around our giving. For that reason, we want to provide some context and clarity around who we are, what we believe and our priorities in relation to corporate giving.
A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. Our intent is not to support political or social agendas.
As we have stated, the Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators.
The statement also links to a “Who We Are” statement that outlines some of its giving, which, actually does include an organization supported by Atlanta’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities — Jerusalem House. Jerusalem House helps people impacted by HIV/AIDS find affordable housing and employees several gay people.
One of its former employees is openly gay Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan. Wan, like Moreno, also spoke out against Chick-fil-A and said he would have no problem as a council member working to defeat approval of building new restaurants inside the city limits because of its blatant anti-gay stances.
Also from that document: “The Chick-fil-A Corporate Purpose is: “To glorify God by being faithful stewards of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Many activists also say Chick-fil-A’s promise to treat all people, including LGBT people, with dignity and respect amounts not even one nugget of truth until the restaurant includes a non-discrimination statement to in its employee handbook that provides protection for LGBT employees.
And the Human Rights Campaign is furious with Chick-fil-A’s apparent dancing around the issue of LGBT equality.
“Chick-fil-A can’t claim to be turning over a new leaf while simultaneously funneling thousands of dollars towards a group that does not acknowledge the dignity and respect of LGBT people,” HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz said Thursday.
“This issue is not – nor has it ever been about – whether a particular organization supports marriage equality. It is about the fact that Dan Cathy’s personal views are leading to corporate dollars being used to prop up groups that demonize and spread malicious falsehoods about LGBT people. Americans can agree upon the values that make our country great – fairness, respect, and dignity for all. There are a number of organizations that work to promote these types of values. Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A is continuing to support organizations that do not reflect mainstream American values.”
So, to those of you who broke the boycott and bought a chicken sandwich and lemonade on Wednesday, let’s hope the indigestion from all this news doesn’t make you sick. And for the rest of us, let’s pop a few Dramamine to keep us from getting sick from all the spinning.
Photo: Motorcyclists line up for the Chick-fil-A WinShape Ride for Family to benefit the Marriage and Family Foundation. This is the photo tweeted by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy one day after news reports came out saying WinShape was not going to donate to anti-gay causes. This fundraiser was asking people to send their money directly to the charity, founded by Chick-fil-A, rather than through WinShape.