"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.
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."
Just one day after Chicago Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno declared that Chick-fil-A had agreed to cease donations to right-wing groups opposed to same-sex marriage, a photo tweeted by the fast food chain's president is casting doubt on Moreno's claim.
Writer Lucas Grindley points out that "Ride for the Family" is a fundraiser for an organization with a known opposition to marriage equality; registration forms for the event, Grindley notes, ask that checks be sent not to Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation, but to the Atlanta-based Marriage and Family Foundation, which was apparently founded by Chick-fil-A's Senior Vice President Donald "Bubba" Cathy in 2007.
In July, Equality Matters reported that Chick-fil-A's WinShape foundation had donated a staggering $1,188,380 to the Marriage and Family Foundation, which was previously known as the Marriage and Family Legacy Fund, in 2010. The site also notes that the Marriage and Family Legacy Fund was created as the "implementation and funding arm” for the Marriage CoMission, a coalition of groups formed in response to the “downward spiral of marriage and the traditional family in America," which counts Exodus International's Alan Chambers and Citizens for Community Values' Barry Sheets among its supporters.
The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) of Illinois, which had been advising Moreno in his negotiations with Chick-fil-A, was generally mum on the subject when contacted by The Advocate. "The agreement was that the foundation would no longer give to these groups, so we are going to have to take some time to obviously look into this," Executive Director Anthony Martinez told the magazine. "In the past, their practices have definitely been against the marriage equality movement. Supporting family and marriage is definitely a good thing, but if they are working against marriage equality, obviously that is something that needs to be addressed."
Response to yesterday's TCRA press release, which touted an internal document which apparently stated that Chick-fil-A was "taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping" and would not support "organizations with political agendas," has been decidedly mixed.
"The fact is that Chick-fil-A has not commented on any of these 'what if' statements or shared anything to substantiate the claims by Chicago Alderman Proco Joe Moreno and the Illinois-based Civil Rights Agenda," wrote Campus Pride Executive Director Shane L. Windmeyer, whose group had "several conversations and two in-person meetings" with Cathy in recent weeks, in a blog for HuffPost Gay Voices. "It may be weeks, months, or even years before the claims by Alderman Moreno are found to be true -- or false."
Added Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in an email statement: "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."
On the flip side, USA Today cites one Facebook user as noting on Chick-fil-A's official page, "You have been blessed because you have stood on God's side since your beginning. Don't mess that up now. I'm truly surprised at your cowardice."
Of course, the move is merely the latest in what has truly become a Chick-fil-A media firestorm, after Cathy's glib confirmation that his company was "guilty as charged" in its support of the biblical definition of the family unit in a July 16 interview with the Baptist Press.
Franchises nationwide experienced a surge of customers who supported Cathy's decidedly anti-marriage equality stance on Aug. 1, which former GOP candidate Mike Huckabee declared "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day." Days later, same-sex couples responded by staging "kiss-in" events at their local Chick-fil-A outlets.
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