Chick-Fil-A has reportedly stated it will no longer donate to anti-gay organizations or groups that actively oppose same-sex marriage. The $4 billion fast food chicken restaurant also reportedly has sent a company-wide memo stating the organization respects all people, including gay people, and supports equal treatment for all, according to a Chicago lawmaker, and local Chicago LGBT organization, who claim Chick-Fil-A will no longer funnel millions of dollars, via its Winshape Foundation, to anti-gay hate groups, like the Family Research Council, or anti-gay organizations like Focus On The Family.
The changes come as the result of a ten-month long negotiation headed by Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who came under intense fire for stating he would not allow Chick-Fil-A to open a restaurant in Chicago until they instituted policies disallowing discrimination.
“The company outlined its shift in policy and practice in a letter addressed to Moreno, who in July declared that he would block the popular fast food chain from opening a new location in his ward unless they adopted gay-friendly policies,” the Chicago Phoenix reported overnight.
The letter, signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate reads, “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.”
In an internal memo titled “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are” issued to franchisees and stakeholders, the company said that as a whole it would, “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender,” and that its “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.”
“Chick-fil-A has provided a way to ensure that their employees know that discrimination will not be tolerated,” Moreno said. “It sends an important message and is a very positive step for Chick-fil-A as it looks to expand into urban markets. It is also a positive step forward for the LGBT community.”
“Moreno first made national headlines in July when he said he would block construction of a Chick-fil-A in the 2500 block of North Elston Avenue because of comments [Chick-Fil-A COO Dan] Cathy made during an interview published in the Baptist Press, the Chicago Tribune is reporting:
Cathy said he was “guilty as charged” for supporting “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.”
Critics questioned Moreno’s commitment to free speech and whether he could legally block construction of the restaurant over the company owner’s political views. Moreno insisted it was a civil rights issue.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a supporter of gay marriage, also entered the debate, saying, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values.”
Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, said the “Who We Are” statement is “a step forward” but “not the endgame.”
“We would still like to see Chick-fil-A adopt … (an) anti-discrimination policy that specifically states they won’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Martinez said.
He said his group was more pleased with the pledge not to fund groups that oppose gay marriage, adding that it will monitor donations by WinShape, a company-affiliated nonprofit group that has made contributions to groups opposing gay marriage.
Meanwhile, Illinois Family Institute Executive Director David Smith said the pledge to respect all people was simply in keeping with the Cathy family’s values.
“That’s just consistent with their Christian beliefs — that’s consistent with orthodox Christian values,” Smith said.
But there is valid cause for skepticism. First, Chick-Fil-A has not announced publicly — aside from their vaguely-worded letter signed by their real estate director — they will stop all donations to groups who oppose same-sex marriage or equality for LGBT people, so, technically, the Winshape Foundation could donate to the Boy Scouts. And Chick-Fil-A could set up another foundation, or funnel donations elsewhere. Of course, the Cathy family can donate whatever and to whomever they please,
But it’s a start. Stay tuned.
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