Though Chick-fil-A has come under considerable fire for its documented support of anti-gay Christian organizations, officials for the fast food chain have remained mostly tight-lipped about the controversy -- until now.
In a new interview with the Baptist Press, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy -- the son of company founder S. Truett Cathy -- addresses what the publication describes as his franchise's "support of the traditional family."
Cathy's somewhat glib response: "Well, guilty as charged."
He went on to note, "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that...we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."
"I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,' and I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about," Cathy said in that interview, which can be heard here.
Needless to say, Cathy's remarks quickly sparked the ire of a number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates and bloggers. "Regardless of where you stand, the placement of LGBT people within our societal picture and within our body of laws is the conversation at hand," wrote Hooper. "That is not the same thing as 'support for the traditional family,' no matter how aggressively the self-appointed values movement attempts to (mis)name reality!"
Added David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement: "Apparently, in the Cathy family’s mind, gay people don’t have families, no one divorces, and everyone must be Christian."
The Atlanta-based company's questionable contributions have been both well reported and the subject of a number of high-profile protests. Earlier this month, Equality Matters published a report on a newly-released analysis of Chick-fil-A's charitable work that found that the fast food chain donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups over the course of 2010. Among those to reportedly receive donations through Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation were the Marriage & Family Foundation ($1,188,380), Exodus International ($1,000) and the Family Research Council (also $1,000).
In February, Northeastern University officials reportedly squashed plans for a campus-based franchise of the fast food chain, after "student concerns reflected [Chick-fil-A's] history of donating to anti-gay organizations," according to The Boston Globe. One month earlier, New York University student Hillary Dworkoski launched a petition calling for NYU to close its Chick-fil-A franchise, reportedly the only one in Manhattan.
Cathy had previously shrugged off the criticisms in a 2011 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, calling blogosphere reports on his company's donations "folklore." Cathy also noted, "We're not anti-anybody. Our mission is to create raving fans."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misquoted Cathy as saying "...the audacity to define what marriage is about."