In an article published in the Huffington Post today, Windmeyer outlines his new-found friendship with Cathy and highlights recent financial records which seem to indicate the fast-food chain is no longer in the business of donating to anti-gay groups.
This past week Chick-fil-A shared with me the 2011 IRS Form 990, filed in November for the WinShape Foundation, along with 2012 financials. The IRS has not released the 990 to the public yet, but the financials affirm Chick-fil-A’s values a year prior to the controversy this past July. The nearly $6 million in outside grant funding focuses on youth, education, marriage enrichment and local communities. The funding reflects Chick-fil-A’s promised commitment not to engage in “political or social debates,” and the most divisive, anti-LGBT groups are no longer listed.
Even as Campus Pride and so many in the community protested Chick-fil-A and its funding of groups like Family Research Council, Eagle Forum and Exodus International, the funding of these groups had already stopped. Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A could have noted this publicly earlier. Instead, they chose to be patient, to engage in private dialogue, to reach understanding, and to share proof with me when it was official. There was no “caving”; there were no “concessions.” There was, in my view, conscience.
In the end, it is not about eating (or eating a certain chicken sandwich). It is about sitting down at a table together and sharing our views as human beings, engaged in real, respectful, civil dialogue. Dan would probably call this act the biblical definition of hospitality. I would call it human decency. So long as we are all at the same table and talking, does it matter what we call it or what we eat?
Windmeyer noted how he was a personal guest of Cathy’s at the Chick-fil-a Bowl in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve and the two had struck up a strong personal and friendly relationship over the past several months as the two talked over the phone and in person. Campus Pride, which works for LGBT equality on campuses across the country, was one of the main protesters of Chick-fil-A, but after talks began evolving between Windmeyer and Cathy, Windmeyer said it was fitting to stop the protests.
For many this news of friendship might be shocking. After all, I am an out, 40-year-old gay man and a lifelong activist for equality. I am also the founder and executive director of Campus Pride, the leading national organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and ally college students. Just seven months ago our organization advanced a national campaign against Chick-fil-A for the millions of dollars it donated to anti-LGBT organizations and divisive political groups that work each day to harm hardworking LGBT young people, adults and our families. I have spent quite some time being angry at and deeply distrustful of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A. If he had his way, my husband of 18 years and I would never be legally married….
During our meetings I came to see that the Chick-fil-A brand was being used by both sides of the political debate around gay marriage. The repercussion of this was a deep division and polarization that was fueling feelings of hate on all sides. As a result, we agreed to keep the ongoing nature of our meetings private for the time being. The fire needed no more fuel … Now it is all about the future, one defined, let’s hope, by continued mutual respect. I will not change my views, and Dan will likely not change his, but we can continue to listen, learn and appreciate “the blessing of growth” that happens when we know each other better. I hope that our nation’s political leaders and campus leaders might do the same.
Does this mean Southern marriage equality supporters can start eating those delicious, but taboo, chicken sandwiches again?
Top photo: Atlanta activists joined in National Same-Sex Kiss Day on Aug. 3 by smooching and rallying at Chick-fil-A restaurants at Piedmont Avenue, Colony Square, CNN Center and in the suburb of Decatur (not pictured). (Photos by Dyana Bagby and Ryan Watkins)