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No, you can’t go back to Chick-fil-A

28 Jan

chick-fil-a-torrance-california-vandalizedIn a Huffington Post Gay Voices piece today, Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer has issued a cease and desist on behalf of Chick-fil-A.

According to Shane, following several meetings with Chick-fil-A President, Dan Cathy and an invite to be his personal guest to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Shane has issued an all-clear. This is not the first time Shane has attempted to allay the fears of the LGBT community surrounding Chick-fil-A. In September of last year, he formally suspended his organization’s boycott of the company, which seemed to some as though the entire LGBT community was doing the same.

Following an interview on HuffPost Live in which Think Progress LGBT’s Zack Ford and I discussed these topics with Shane, I thought it important to follow-up.  One of the important discoveries of Shane’s piece is that he’s been allowed access to top-secret internal Chick-fil-A documents and has seen their tax forms which prove Chick-fil-A is no longer giving to the “most divisive” anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family or Exodus International – both of whom have been linked to Uganda’s infamous “Kill the Gays” bill. But that’s hard to comment on since Cathy only showed it to Shane personally.

There are an enormous number of questions which arise and it’s important that we ask them before chomping into a greasy, fatty homophobe sandwich. Some were asked during the interview above, but were never answered and others are now being asked around the interwebs.

Why would Dan Cathy choose to share these secret internal documents with only Shane instead of clearing his name and his organization’s reputation by sending them to a reporter? There could be several reasons for this. If the story is leaked to the mainstream media and it’s true, some of Chick-fil-A’s gay hating base might get real mad. Or perhaps the only reason they stopped giving to a few of the anti-gay groups was to earn Shane’s stamp of approval and thus earn Shane as an advocate to all those college campuses wanting to open new Chick-fil-As. Either way, Chick-fil-A is STILL contributing to anti-gay groups.

Why would Dan Cathy choose to pursue only Shane Windmeyer and Campus Prid instead of larger, farther reaching LGBT orgs such as HRC, The Task Force or GLAAD? Is it that Cathy found solace in the fact that Shane seemed like a nice guy or is it that Shane is the one with access to Cathy opening more lucrative restaurants on college campuses?

Finally, Shane’s piece, though ultimately about his budding friendship with Cathy, has led to media claims that Chick-fil-A has ceased funding to anti-gay groups. Though Shane blames the media for not reading into his own fine print that it was just the “most divisive” groups, he has managed to provide cover for a virulently anti-gay company and it’s virulently anti-gay President.

I hate conspiracy theories, truly I do, but  there’s quite clearly something not kosher here – and I’m not talking about the soggy pickle in a Chick-fil-A sandwich. I like Shane and I think Campus Progress does incredibly important work. I would just hate to see that reputation at all sullied by lifting up those who steadfastly stand in opposition to equality. Dan Cathy may very well have found a friend in the LGBT community – as many homophobes have stated “Some of my best friends are gay…” But the harm his contributions have made cannot be cast aside simply because he invited a gay guy to a football game.

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Why Did Chick-fil-A Cross the Road? Because Being Anti-Gay is Bad for Business

19 Sep

I have a rule. If everyone else is writing about something, I’m more than likely not going to write about it – unless three straight friends personally email me about it. So here it is-

Chicago Alerman Proco “Joe” Moreno made headlines a few months ago when he vowed to block the anti-gay fast food chain, Chick-fil-A from building its second Chicago store. People screamed about the corporation’s right to free speech, etc and attacked Moreno and other lawmakers who were vowing similar challenges. And while legally, no lawmaker can just decide someone can’t do business because of their beliefs – there are other ways of legislatively challenging new businesses from opening. These include discriminatory employment practices among other things. Point being, nothing ever happened and no one stopped any Chick-fil-A’s from selling their horrifically unhealthy chicken sandwiches.

One thing that needs to be made clear here – the reason gay people were up in arms about Chick-fil-A had very little to do with CEO Dan Cathy’s remarks regarding his anti-equality view on marriage. The tremors were caused by Chick-fil-A contributing more than $5 million to virulently anti-gay groups over the past several years. Some of those groups have even been linked to Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill which would mean life in prison and in some cases, execution for being gay. It even went so far as to punish those who didn’t report friends and family for being gay.

Flash forward, dozens of anti-gay groups have now hosted anti-gay “Chick-fil-A Days” and other homophobic actions supporting the chain. One anti-gay group has even gone so far as to declare every Wednesday “Chick-fil-A Day.”

Now it appears through several talks, Alderman Moreno has made some headway with the higher-ups and is declaring victory. It seems Chick-fil-A has agreed to stop funding these anti-gay groups and has sent around an internal memo to all franchisees and stakeholders that says the company must “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”

This is quite clearly a win for us and proves that being anti-gay is bad for business. While we will have to wait to see their tax returns which disclose the groups they contribute to, and while Dan Cathy made a similar claim in January of 2011 that Chick-fil-A and their charitable arm, Winshape will “not champion any political agendas on marriage and family,” I think this is most definitely a win.

Upon revisitation, there are still quite a few things left up in the air that I want to caution about before we run back for our waffle fries:

  • This agreement was made between a Chicago politician and Chick-fil-A’s Director of Real Estate. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of clout a Director of Real Estate might have with regards to Chick-fil-A’s employment or giving practices.
  • The policy that’s being touted as a success is their philosophy that they don’t give to groups with political agendas is one that has been in place since the company was founded – what’s making them stick to that philosophy now and who at Chick-fil-A does the deciding on what is or is not a group with a political agenda.
  • Finally, No one at Chick-fil-A has corroborated or denied the reports in this press release. Until that happens, stick to KFC.

The full statement from The Civil Rights Agenda:

Chick-fil-A Ceases Anti-gay Donations, Clarifies Stance on

Gay Customers & Employees

September 18, 2012 – Chicago, Illinois – The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has learned that Alderman Moreno has finalized his negotiations with Chick-Fil-A.  Alderman Moreno has confirmed that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations and that they have clarified in an internal document that the company will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation. The Civil Rights Agenda worked closely with the Alderman in an advisory role as he negotiated these concessions with the executives at Chick-fil-A.  Additionally, members of TCRA spoke directly with executives at Chick-fil-A during negotiations to aid in educating their decision makers about anti-discrimination policies and issues affecting the LGBT community.

In a letter addressed to Alderman Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations 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.”  Winshape, a non-profit funded by Chick-fil-a, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups, including some classified as hate groups, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.  In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations.

“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.  It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step.”

Additionally, they have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.”  This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”

“Although we are encouraged by their internal statement, we would still like for the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level,” said Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is one thing for a company to say they respect everyone they serve and employ, it is quite another for them to put that into their policies and demand that all employees adhere to that behavior.  As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal. It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”

One more thing about Bailey Hanks

11 Aug

It’s a long one, bear with me. I’m so very torn right now. I have put something out there on the internets and people have reacted to it. Some more strongly than others.

I wrote a few days ago about how fascinating it is that the Chick-fil-A debacle has brought people into the equality discussion more than any single thing since California’s Prop 8 in 2007. Back then, a whole new generation of activists was born. People took to the streets by the thousands. This time, people are taking to Facebook and Twitter by the millions. I’m still not sure if people actually value their deep-fried chicken so much as to debate it or if this was just the tipping point for something larger? What is it about this that has people taking such definitive sides?

Since posting the other day about Bailey Hanks, I’ve seen the entire spectrum of responses – everything from vitriolic, horrible things being said to and about Bailey to the same being said about me. What I’ve learned is that people are mad. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out when you’re told you’ve created an “internet coliseum” where Christians are being thrown to the lions.

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear. I don’t hate Bailey Hanks. I don’t hate Christians. I suppose I can say I love the sinner but hate the sin when it comes to anti-gay Christians. Wow, it’s kinda fun to flip that one. I don’t hate the people who have anti-gay beliefs. I hate when they act on those beliefs by supporting, funding or voting on the denial of my rights as a human being.

I don’t believe Bailey Hanks is a hateful person – as many posting on her Facebook have claimed. I think she is someone who has been carefully taught something that’s hard to unlearn. Bailey walked into that Chick-fil-A that day, fully aware that it was Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. That much can’t be denied despite some of those defending her. She “liked” the event on Facebook prior to it happening and I simply will not buy that she didn’t know what was going on. That kind of willful ignorance is extraordinarily rare. Is it possible that she somehow missed ALL media surrounding this? In this day and age – a girl with a private and public Facebook page as well as a twitter account – it’s just hard to believe, despite what she says in her first apology that has been posted for more than a few minutes:

“I have decided to delete this page, it will deactivate in 14 days…but before I do I would like to share my heart to those who do not know me and only seen or heard things from other people. At the time the chicken was only chicken to me and while in rehearsal and shows at the time I was not properly informed on what was going on. I was unaware of the BIG picture. With that being said I had poor timing. But I am a Christian, but a Christian to me is not a religion or a denomination, it is a relationship with my lord and savior Jesus Christ. And my Lord said to love everyone even those who hate you. And that I live by. I have my beliefs as a Christian and I hope you can accept that, as I accept you! If you want to marry whomever you want… Who am I to stop you? Go! Live! Be merry! I have friends who are married and they are gay, friends who are gay and engaged and I couldn’t be more happy for them and they know that. These ppl have reached out to me and know my heart. My intentions are never malicious, and I have never rooted for others unhappiness in their life. I hope this clears up any unanswered questions, and I hope you can please step back and let this all go and let me live a peaceful life without hate…. As I want the same peace for you!

Thank you for hearing me out! Much love to everyone!
Xoxo
Bailey

Bailey is unapologetically Christian. From birth, she had the idea drummed into her little head that we are all sinners. It can sometimes be a tough and damaging lifestyle that when so ingrained into you from such a young age, can build barriers to you learning anything else. That’s being proven around the country right now with “Creationism” being taught in schools, with science – things we know to be true via actual research, being thrown out the window.

My point is, I believe Bailey went to that Chick-fil-A because she thought she was doing something “Pro-Christian” and not “Anti-Gay.” Unfortunately those two things are not inseparable in this particular instance. She does not see or comprehend that the things she is told by her church are “hateful,” it’s how some can look you in the eyes with a huge smile on their face and tell you that you should not have the right to marry or adopt children. They have been convinced for generations that since Christians only know how to love, everything they say or do is only ever said or done out of love. I’m here to say that contributing money to anti-gay groups directly or via Chick-fil-A is not something done out of love. I’m here to say that voting against another person’s right to start a family is not something done out of love. And I’m here to say that just by saying you are doing something out of love, does not mean that you are.

Bailey, I am not letting you off. An action you’ve taken has hurt a lot of people. And now you have the opportunity to fix it. I would love it if you would use this situation to make a real effort to educate yourself on the things your friends, colleagues and young fans are going through. I’m calling to you Bailey to read up on the hundreds of LGBT kids in this country who take their own lives because their Christian families reject them. I beg you to read the book “Prayers for Bobby.” It’s about a devoutly Christian mom who took the time to learn about her gay son after it was too late. And have some real conversations with your gay friends, ask them what it was like to grow up gay or about how they came out to their parents. And then take it a step further. Use the information you find to educate your own family and community on the idea that voting for and funding any kind of discrimination against gay people is wrong and is never done out of love.

And to those who’ve responded to what you perceived as hate with more hate: I don’t believe this is how we’ll win our equality. As a young gay kid, I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me. Churches, politicians and everyone I looked up to told me that I would never have that happy ending I’d seen in the Disney movies. Then I started doing theatre, and surrounded myself with that wonderful, creative safe place. Finally I’d found a world where I didn’t feel judged and in fact felt completely supported for who I was. I moved to New York City and stayed holed up in that community of support for 12 years. And outside that little ten-block radius, the world didn’t exist. The hatred outside wasn’t affecting me because I was blissfully unaware of it. Then Prop 8 woke me up. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

The hatred had penetrated my safe little circle, and I was pissed. I chanted, screamed and organized in the streets. I was activated. I was almost more angry though that the rug was pulled out from under me – this community was no longer safe. Many of you had that same rug pulled out from under you when you saw one of your own supporting a hateful corporation. I get it. I get your anger and you have every right to it. But don’t think for a second that it’s going to change anything. It may activate you like it did me, but you need to find a way to focus it on changing people’s minds. And when someone comes at you swinging, I promise you your mind’s not going to be very quick to change. Be pissed, be hurt, but let your desire for change be stronger than your desire to scream at someone.

In closing, since this all stems from a conversation about a musical, please read and take these prophetic words to heart from Oscar Hammerstein II:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Laura Bell Bundy, Original Legally Blonde Star Speaks Out About Chick-fil-A

10 Aug

Broadway’s Laura Bell Bundy

This has been quite a few days. In case you’ve missed it, I posted a little story yesterday here and on HuffingtonPost regarding former Broadway performer Bailey Hanks.

The young starlet had tweeted her support of the anti-gay Chick-fil-A back on August 1st – “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.” The response to the story has been overwhelming to say the least. Many have been filled with frustration and hurt that this actress would side with a company that is virulently anti-gay. Since I first heard about her tweets, I’ve given Bailey several opportunities to speak out and apologize to the people she’s hurt. All I’ve personally heard from her is that she is a “Proud Christian.” She posted a quick “apoligy” to her Twitter account, but then quickly deleted it along with her account.

Her colleagues are now speaking out. Broadway actor John Carroll has written an open letter to Bailey at Advocate.com and explains why he’s hurt by what she’s said.

“Bailey, you used gay people for your personal gain to make your dreams come true and then sold them down the river with your message condoning a company that is publicly known for discriminating. With your actions, you agreed to treat people like second-class citizens and doing so, disrespected my friends, family, my marriage and me, all this in an Instagram photo of your hate –filled waffle fries.

Stop hiding bigotry and hatred behind religion, let’s call it exactly what it is. If we are going to live by any biblical rule, let it be the golden one.”

And many commenters on Facebook posts about the issue have also been colleagues of Bailey’s. Some posting personally supportive comments, but remaining critical of her actions. And of course there are some who are downright angry with her. One person even compared me to a Roman emperor tossing her to the Coliseum’s lions. But overall, people are frustrated that someone in this community could do something like this.

And today, I just heard from the original star of Broadway’s Legally Blonde (who Bailey succeeded in the show). Laura Bell Bundy is a friend I’ve worked with professionally and a woman I admire with all my soul. She’s a southern Christian Broadway star with more talent in her little finger than most ever have. Here’s Laura’s take on the situation:

“As I fully support everyone’s right to freedom of speech and belief, MY belief is that hate and bigotry is wrong. That is MY first amendment right. I choose not to support an organization against the equal rights of any group of people– especially my beloved gay community… whom without I would not have a career, a livelihood, creative fulfillment, any good shoes,taste, music, a stylist, a publicist, a producer, a writer, a director, a choreographer and two of the greatest friends a gal could ask for. I knew there was a reason I always liked beef better than chicken anyway.

I will never forget that love I have received from the gay community and I hope to give them back that love in equal measure.”

I’m fairly certain this story will die out eventually. And I hope Bailey eventually comes to terms with the idea that her friends and colleagues deserve the same rights and responsibilities she has. Please also know that none of this has ever been intended to hurt Bailey or her career. I write, people write to bring awareness to situations that can cause change. I was hoping the original piece I wrote was going to be “Look what she did, and look at this sincere apology for hurting her colleagues.” It would have been an un-story that 7 people read on my little blog.

But when you do something that attacks me, and my friends and family, and young gay people who are looking up to you – I can’t stay quiet. Those are all people that need to know what you’ve done is not okay. That’s why I do what I do. Like it or not.

What happens when a Broadway star supports Chick-fil-A?

9 Aug

Yesterday, I wrote about Broadway star and Chick-fil-A fan, Bailey Hanks as part of a broader discussion. Today, I feel as though it deserves it’s own post.

Bailey, who was cast to take over the starring role in Broadway’s Legally Blonde following a MTV reality contest, has been playing Elle Woods on the road for years now. While I’m sure she’s a talented young lady, I can’t help but wonder how the presumably dozens of gay people who work with her must feel about her support of an anti-gay corporation.

Yesterday upon finding out she had touted her support for Chick-fil-A on Facebook, I added an image to a piece I’d already been working on about the greater conversation regarding people’s reaction to the whole controversy. I also tweeted my disappointment to Bailey herself. Upon responding that she was a “Proud Christian” and not responding to my questions regarding her support for a company that gave millions to anti-gay hate groups, she quickly blocked her public twitter feed. Additionally, she quickly removed the image she’d posted on Facebook.

While everyone has the right to do and say what they please – it’s still a free country after all – it surprises me to see someone who spends every day surrounded by gay people, yet still believe they don’t deserve the same rights and protections  that she does. It reminds me of the drama surrounding Scott Eckern – the Artistic Director at the Sacramento Music Circus a few years back. Scott had contributed to the Yes on 8 campaign, supporting a California Amendment that would strip LGBT couples of their right to marry. 18,000 couples had already been married at that point and the hateful proposition halted those marriages from happening. I was heavily involved with communications with Scott at the time and Marc Shaiman (composer of Broadway’s Hairspray) and Susan Egan (Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) also played a heavy part in leading the charge against someone who would make all their money because of gay people, but then work to have their rights taken away. In the interest of not damaging the reputation of his organization, Eckern resigned.

And while Bailey Hanks is hardly a household name, her opinion is one that is seen by lots of young gay people. What does it say to a young teen struggling with their identity when they see someone they look up to supporting something so hateful? What does it say to coworkers who are gay when they are working with someone who not only doesn’t believe in their rights to equal protections under the law, but posts it on her Facebook page?

Look, I don’t believe Bailey is a bigot. I think she’s terrifically uninformed and ignorant on the facts.

Bailey – if you’re listening, this is not about someone’s personal beliefs. This is about the fact that Chick-fil-A has given millions to anti-gay groups who are fighting to have gay people put to death in some countries. This is about the groups they support who are working to have homosexuality criminalized here in the U.S.. These are organizations who believe children are better off spending their whole lives in a foster care system instead of having two loving same-sex parents. They spread lies that gay people are child molesters (when every credible study has proven the opposite). They tell people that we are unable to be in committed relationships, that we are trying to harm the church or damaging heterosexual marriage and families. None of these things are true of course, but your words and your support of Chick-fil-A says to your friends, your co-workers and your young gay fans that you believe they are worth less than you. It says that you believe they shouldn’t be allowed to have families. I don’t think that’s what you feel. In my heart of hearts, without even really knowing you, I believe your experience tells you something different.

UPDATE***

It turns out Hanks isn’t completely alone. Broadway performer Wallace Smith (Godspell) also tweeted out his support for Chick-fil-A. While not quite the same ringing endorsement Hanks gave, it’s still troubling to see someone whose lifestyle and career is dependent on the work of LGBT people not coming out against such a bigoted corporation. It seems our out Broadway friends and allies need to step up the education in the community. Your chicken sandwich is not more valuable than the lives of gay people that are threatened in other countries.

UPDATE 2****

Following this same post being published at HuffingtonPost, Bailey started receiving some negative attention on her Twitter account. While some of it was most certainly uncalled for and rude, most people just wanted some kind of reply from her. Instead of replying, Bailey deleted her Twitter account. There may have been something she wrote during all that, but as she’d blocked me yesterday for asking questions, I can’t tell you what she may have written.

On her public Facebook fan page, some people had written very thoughtful replies and requests for an apology from Bailey. To my knowledge, she hasn’t offered any kind of apology and the only real response she has posted has been on her private Facebook page.

As I said above, I didn’t think she was a bigot and I truly believed she just needed some education on the matter. I don’t know that I think that’s true any longer. She has now had several opportunities to offer an apology and instead she has taken to her private Facebook to compare her plight to that of Jesus on the cross. I’m sorry, dear Bailey, but you are no martyr. You ate a chicken sandwich, some waffle fries and a brownie and then put a photo of your food on Twitter so all your gay friends and fans could see that you didn’t believe they deserved the same rights as you. That doesn’t make you a martyr, it makes you a bigot.

What if this whole thing wasn’t about Chick-fil-A at all?

8 Aug

Over the years, corporations have at times been vocal about social issues. It takes courage to take a stand that is sometimes unpopular, but once in a while, a company takes that brave first step.

But a couple weeks ago, something shifted. Something happened that caused all anti-gay hell to break loose. Chick-fil-A‘s CEO came out against marriage equality. For years now, individuals and companies have expressed their opinions and those of us in the equality movement have tried to make it known. JCPenney was boycotted by anti-gay groups when they hired Ellen Degeneres as a spokesperson and published a catalog featuring a photo of lesbian moms and their kids. A few people noticed, but it didn’t become a national debate. A list of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 supporters came out. Some people got hysterical and started small boycotts of some companies, but again – it didn’t really wind up on the news.

Then CFA’s CEO Dan Cathy spoke up and told the Baptist Press that the company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” In a later radio interview, he ratcheted up the rhetoric: “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 everyone heard it.

I’ve now waded through tens of thousands of comments on Facebook, talked to dozens of people in real life and one thing has become clear. For some reason, something happened that made people stand up and take notice.

For many people in our community, we have those in our lives who we know might not be the most supportive of equality. For years we’ve gently nudged them and some have even taken great strides. And then there are some who have just remained quiet while we’ve posted things on Facebook about different stories of discrimination – some violent and horrific. But for some reason, this Chick-fil-A thing happens and EVERYONE has an opinion – and not a small-voiced one either.

I made a meme that wound up on George Takei’s Facebook wall. It didn’t mention CFA directly but featured The Muppets’ Kermit and Miss Piggy getting married. The text read: Thank you Jim Henson’s Muppets, Standing Up for Non-Traditional Marriage since 1984. The meme was shared 38,000 times, liked 121,000 times and had more than 3,000 comments.

I’ve found most are from people who are misinformed. Most who stand with Chick-fil-A think this is an issue of “free speech” trying to be squashed. Clearly they don’t have an understanding that free speech happens in both directions. Anyone can say whatever the hell they want. And when they say that thing, they have to be willing to face the consequences. And then the other side has free speech as well – to do things like arrange boycotts if you like, or educate the public.

Many think people are just upset because Dan Cathy expressed his opinion on something and some didn’t like that opinion. Some of us have been working to get the message out there that this is not at all about his opinion on marriage equality, it’s about the millions of CFA dollars he’s spent on anti-gay hate groups. As outlined in an earlier post, he’s given over $5 million to groups that (among many other things) try to cure gay people and fight to have gay people put to death in Uganda.

But back to my original question. What is it about this particular moment in history and this particular story that has caused the masses to speak out?

I was talking to a friend earlier who is not terribly active in the LGBT community. He’s gay and married, but doesn’t frequently post things even slightly political on Facebook. He’s shocked at how many friends he’s seen with bigoted opinions. Some who even came to his wedding. I too have seen many comments on things whose opinion I never knew until now.

Even people like Broadway reality performer Bailey Hanks has taken a side. Normally you would think that someone who spends most of their time surrounded by gay people onstage, offstage, in the audience and more than likely cutting her paychecks, would be supportive. But Bailey posted an image to her personal Facebook page clearly coming out in favor of the bigoted fast food chain.

So what is it? Is this really about Chick-fil-A or did we hit a tipping point where those who’ve secretly hated gay people for years feel like their chicken sandwich is worth more than the lives of their gay friends?

UPDATE******

Just a little update on the status of Bailey Hanks. Shortly after we tweeted the story to her, she replied that she is a “Proud Christian.” I replied and when I looked for a response, I discovered she’d blocked her account. Bailey, if you’re reading this, we just want to know if you believe it is “Christian” for Chick-fil-A to support anti-gay hate groups and if you believe your co-workers deserve the same rights as you do. It’s all we want to know.

Upon a little further research, Bailey also tweeted her love of the anti-gay fast food chain on Chick-fil-A Appreciation day! I guess it wasn’t just about her “dear friend” who works at CFA.

This is why Chick-fil-A sucks

19 Jul

I’ve been reading a lot lately about Chick-fil-A. The news of their contributions to anti-gay organizations first came to my attention last year when Equality Matters researched some of their contributions and published them. Here is what they found:

WinShape Is Chick-Fil-A’s Charitable Arm. The WinShape Foundation is Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, created by Chick-fil-A founder and chairman S. Truett Cathy in 1984. WinShape has received a substantial amount of funding from Chick-fil-A: in 2009 alone, WinShape received $7,814,788 from Chick-fil-A Inc. [Winshape 2009 Publicly Available IRS 990 Form via Foundation Center, accessed10/28/11] 

WinShape Gave Over $1.7 Million To Anti-Gay Groups. In 2009 alone, WinShape donated $1,733,699 to multiple anti-gay groups:

  • Marriage & Family Legacy Fund: $994,199
  • Fellowship Of Christian Athletes: $480,000
  • National Christian Foundation: $240,000
  • Focus On The Family: $12,500
  • Eagle Forum: $5,000
  • Exodus International: $1,000
  • Family Research Council: $1,000

[Winshape 2009 Publicly Available IRS 990 Form via Foundation Center, accessed 10/28/11]

This all came out in November of last year. In the time since, I’ve seen several posts on Facebook urging people to boycott the company as it continued to grow. Then last week, Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy responded to a question about the company’s anti-gay stances: “We’re guilty as charged.” In the same interview, Cathy said: “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.”

Cathy then reiterated that stance on The Ken Coleman Show, as Jeremy Hooper pointed out:

“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 define what marriage is about,”

While contributing to organizations that align with your beliefs is indeed the right of any person or corporation, it is also the right of citizens to research the work of the organizations you contribute to and make their shopping choices accordingly.

Let’s take a look at how you are supporting anit-gay bigotry around the globe when you buy some waffle fries (or anything else at Chick-fil-A):

Marriage & Family Legacy Fund: Founded by Exodus North America’s Alan Chambers who has admitted to anti-gay housing discrimination: “As a property owner of Orlando, I wouldn’t rent to someone who is gay…” He has also implied a connection between gay people and pedophiles with no evidence whatsoever: “I believe the gay community is a good group of people but with groups like NAMBLA [a pedophile group] riding on their coattails.”

Exodus International: Exodus International Board Member John Schmierer began his trips to Uganda in 2009, preaching alongside Nazi revisionist Scott Lively, spreading hatred of gay people to the people and leaders of the country. This directly led to their legislation requiring the execution of some gay people.

In Schmierer’s future trips to Uganda, he would whip up anti-gay furor with lies linking homosexuality to child abuse, calling for mandatory “conversion therapy” for homosexuals and any other number of falsehoods he could come up with.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes: The FCA is decidedly anti-gay and discriminates against gay people from participating. Their website even goes on about “saving” people from being gay. Danny Burns, the National College Conference of the FCA spoke of people being “freed from homosexuality” at the 2011 annual conference.

Focus on the Family: Founded by James Dobson, FotF has been at the front of most anti-gay movements the US has seen since it’s founding. They have supported and funded “Ex-Gay” organizations for years and one of their co-founders (George Alan Rekers) was actually found bringing a gay sex worker on vacation with him. These same organizations have been one of the primary causes of suicide among young gay people forced to go through this “therapy.” Dobson believes gay people will destroy the earth:

“Homosexuals are not monogamous. They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.”

Dobson additionally equates homosexuality and sex with animals quite clearly in the video here.

Family Research Council: Not sure where to start. Let’s start with a Tony Perkins quote:

“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”
— Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010

There are literally dozens of other moments where FRC and Focus on the Family link homosexuality and pedophilia with zero reputable evidence.

In 2010, The Congress was considering a public condemnation of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays Bill” which would put gay people on trial with a possible death sentence as punishment for homosexuality. Family Research Council spent $25,000 lobbying Congress to not disapprove of this bill.

FRC and FotF have also fought hard against anti-gay adoption laws, so it can safely be said that they would rather see children spend their whole lives in a foster care system than find a forever home.

I posted the following meme on Facebook today in the hopes of enlightening people to where their money might be going when they pick up their chicken and waffle fries at Chick-fil-A.

Not that I should be, but I was honestly surprised by the anti-gay response on Facebook. People who refused to equate “Christian” organizations with anything anti-gay. The biggest leap of course was to people thinking they were supporting the murder of gay people. It’s a tough thing to think about, but the truth is that homosexuality is still criminalized in 77 countries. And the death penalty is among the possible punishments in at least 7 of those countries.

The Family Research Council is supportive of a new law proposed in Uganda which would also add a death penalty for those suspected of being gay. Chick-fil-A supports the work of the Family Research Council.

Plain and simple, this is where your money is going when you buy something at Chick-fil-A. Of course not every person who works there or owns a franchise is anti-gay. That’s not at all what we are saying. But when you purchase something there, your money goes to the corporation, which then uses that money to invest in bigoted, anti-gay, anti-family organizations.

UPDATE:

Yesterday late afternoon, after the image above had been shared on Facebook more than 9,000 times, I received notice that the image violated their “Rights & Responsibilities” and they censored and yanked it from every person’s profile who’d shared it. I assumed it was because I’d used Chick-fil-A’s logo. Apparently that wasn’t the case because upon recreating the image with a different non-trademarked font, it too was pulled and my account temporarily suspended. A friend at Facebook is currently looking into it.

Chick-fil-A has responded via Facebook message to the calls of boycott with a statement quite similar to one Dan Cathy made back in 2011. And while it’s a nice sentiment, their words and their contributions to virulently anti-gay groups don’t seem to match up.

“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. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”