A Chicago-based civil rights group is claiming that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to organizations associated with anti-gay sentiment through its not-for-profit arm as a result of negotiations to build a new location in the city’s 1st Ward.
According to a statement by The Civil Rights Agenda, Ward 1 Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno asked the restaurant company to clarify its stance on issues impacting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community before it would be allowed to open a restaurant in the city’s Northwest Side neighborhood. The organization said it worked closely to advise the Alderman as he negotiated with executives at Chick-fil-A.
During the negotiations Chick-fil-A agreed to review the donation practice of its WinShape Foundation, according to Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. The WinShape Foundation has been known to contribute to groups such as Focus on the Family and Fellowship of Christian Athletes that, among other things, advocate against same-sex marriage.
"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," Martinez said.
The statement comes months after Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A found itself at the center of hurricane, including protests and support rallies, because of comments promoting a “biblical definition of the family unit” made by president and chief operating officer Dan Cathy. In a July 16 article by the Baptist Press, Cathy said: “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.”
Martinez claims that Chick-fil-A’s senior director of real estate sent Moreno a letter that stated, “The WinShape Foundation 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.”
Martinez said the change was largely a business decision made by Chick-fil-A because the company is seeking to expand into urban areas and college campuses. “As a business practice they realized that discriminating against a minority class is not the way to expand in these specific areas,” he said.
When contacted for comment, Chick-fil-A spokesman Jerry Johnston said in an e-mail, “At this point, we are not offering any response to the press release distributed by the Civil Rights Agenda other than the statement we originally released in July.”
Chick-fil-A’s July statement included:
"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."