A ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day’ event staged on Aug. 1 set sales records for the company when conservatives came out in droves to support the company president’s full-throated stance against gay marriage. But that support is a lot less robust under a new corporate policy.
Chick-fil-A had plenty of support for its anti-gay-marriage stance, but in the end, the restaurant chain chickened out.
A Chick-fil-A executive confirmed that the company will stop donating to groups like Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage, according to The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based gay-rights organization.
The groups, which got millions of dollars from Chick-fil-A over the last few years, fight the legalization of gay marriage. But some go even further: opposing adoption by gay couples, advertising “conversion therapy” to turn gays straight, and even endorsing criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.
In a letter to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, a Chick-fil-A executive said the company “is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”
Executives later clarified the statement to say it would no longer donate to anti-gay groups, The Civil Rights Agenda said.
When reached for comment by the Daily News, a Chick-fil-A representative would only say the company plans to "leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena," but did not confirm that the donations would end.
Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy probably thought he was preaching to the flock when he told the Baptist Press in July that his restaurant was “guilty as charged” when it came to supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit” in a July interview.
But his comments — and Chick-fil-A’s donations — made headlines, and quickly ignited a fast food culture war.
On one side, the Jim Henson Company severed its ties with the restaurant — citing CEO Lisa Henson’s “strong” support for gay marriage — and activists planned a same-sex kiss-in at locations around the country.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined Alderman Moreno in vowing to make it difficult for Chick-fil-A to open new locations in their cities.
Fox News host and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee framed the issue as a matter of freedom of speech and religion, and organized a “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” urging conservatives to spend money at the chain on Aug. 1.
The company set sales records that day, and other conservative politicians like Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum joined the chorus of support for Cathy and his beleaguered company.
Chick-fil-A is now telling franchise owners and stockholders that its policy is to “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender,” and “not to engage in political or social debates.”