Chicken tender? Chick-fil-A president, LGBT leader strike up friendship

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A Chick-fil-A logo is seen on a take out bag at one of its restaurants on July 28, 2012 in Bethesda, Maryland. Chick-fil-A, with more than 1,600 outlets...
A Chick-fil-A logo is seen on a take out bag at one of its restaurants on July 28, 2012 in Bethesda, Maryland. Chick-fil-A, with more than 1,600 outlets...
MANDEL NGAN

Is Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy having a change of heart about gay rights?

Cathy, who became a controversial figure in 2012 when fried up comments about same-sex marriage, has recently befriended LGBT author and activist Shane Windmeyer.

Lest we forget, Cathy famously stated: “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. 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.”

These comments seemed to galvanize the nation at the time, drawing many to boycott the chain and many others to show their support. Apparently proving that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Chick-fil-A set a sales record on August 1, 2012 with support from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Windmeyer is the founder and director of Campus Pride, an organization for LGBT college students, and he recently wrote a lengthy piece for the Huffington Post about meeting with Cathy after “after months of personal phone calls, text messages and in-person meetings.” Windmeyer is quick to point out that Campus Pride ran a national campaign against Cathy’s fast-food chain.

Windmeyer continues, “Like most LGBT people, I was provoked by Dan’s public opposition to marriage equality and his company’s problematic giving history. I had the background and history on him, so I thought, and had my own preconceived notions about who he was. I knew this character. No way did he know me. That was my view. But it was flawed.”

Chick-fil-A has donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups, the organization Equality Matters reports, yet in his piece, Windmeyer notes he has seen Chick-fil-A’s 2011 IRS Form 990 and the company is no longer supporting anti-LGBT groups.

Is this a substantial change (a recent tweet from Cathy suggests a possible change of heart) or simply PR? Think Progress editor Zack Ford doesn’t seem to be buying it either way.

“Chick-fil-A is not ending the bulk of its anti-gay giving. Chick-fil-A is not implementing any LGBT-inclusive policies like nondiscrimination protections, of which it has none. And Dan Cathy is not apologizing for his vitriolic comments,” Ford writes.

Yet, ABC News points to a written statement from the chain:

Over the past three years alone, Chick-fil-A has given more than $68 million in contributions to over 700 different educational and charitable organizations around the country, in addition to providing millions of dollars in food donations.  While we evaluate individual donations on an annual basis, our giving is focused on three key areas:  youth and education, leadership and family enrichment and serving the local communities in which we operate.  Our intent is to not support political or social agendas. This has been the case for more than 60 years.

The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect and to serve great food with genuine hospitality.


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Chicken tender? Chick-fil-A president, LGBT leader strike up friendship

Updated