Following intense skepticism after news broke late Tuesday that Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to anti-gay organizations and a new report in the The Advocate renewing concerns about its giving policies, the company has issued a document that it says “thoroughly” outlines the company’s policy.
However, the statement seems to have done little to convince LGBT activists that its policies have changed.
“For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized,” read the statement attached to the internal document, released to Chicago Phoenix Thursday afternoon.
“And while our sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate, events from Chicago this week have once again resulted in questions around our giving. For that reason, we want to provide some context and clarity around who we are, what we believe and our priorities in relation to corporate giving.”
Until now, the popular chicken chain was mum on details of a widely reported agreement made with Chicago Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno in which it pledged to cease making donations to anti-gay groups and issue an internal document providing guidelines for treating LGBT customers and employees with respect. However, neither Moreno nor Chick-fil-A would release the document, only adding to doubts that they would fulfill the agreement. LGBT activists suspected political grandstanding, conservative supporters of Chick-fil-A condemned the about-face and others were indifferent.
The internal document titled “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are” outlines the company’s mission and details on how the company gives back to the community through educational opportunities, food donations and charitable programs, such as WinShape. Many of the donations specified in the document are to religious organizations such as The Salvation Army, Jerusalem House and Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless. It makes no mention of donations made by WinShape to anti-gay organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund.
“As we have stated, 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,” continued the statement, repeating much of what the company has already issued on the matter. “We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators.”
Some LGBTs and activists for equality, however, are left unconvinced — the statement also read, “A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas.”
At no point in the document does the company mention putting an end to discrimination or ending anti-gay donations.
Popular LGBT blog site Joe.My.God. posted the statement with the headline, “Chick-fil-A: We Haven’t Changed A Thing.”
In the Thursday morning report, The Advocate raised questions about the company’s adherence to the agreement made with Moreno to cease donations to anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund. The report was spurred by a photo tweeted Tuesday by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy from the annual from the WinShape Ride for the Family event, which raises money for the Marriage and Family Foundation.
Instead of requesting donations directly to WinShape, Chick-fil-A and WinShape asked that donations be made directly to MFF, reported The Advocate. Fees for the ride are anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000, according to the event’s registration form found here.
The newly-released document, however, makes no mention of the Ride for the Family, or any of the money donated to the group.
Shortly after the Advocate story broke, Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, an LGBT rights advocacy group that worked in an advisory capacity with Moreno, said that he wasn’t sure if Ride for Family event donations violated their pledge to cease anti-gay donations.
“We are looking into it,” Martinez said.
Later, Martinez addressed skepticism of Chick-fil-A’s willingness to honor the agreement and people who are wondering why it hasn’t explicitly — and publicly — stated that it won’t donate to anti-gay causes.
“They can’t say that we are going to stop that because they are going to get attacked,” he said. “If you look at their Facebook page, people on the right have already told them that they’re going to hell for this. From a business standpoint, they can’t. Of course, I would like that, but I don’t think they’re going to do that publicly.”
In addition, the Human Rights Campaign responded by condemning the company in a press release.
“Chick-fil-A can’t claim to be turning over a new leaf while simultaneously funneling thousands of dollars towards a group that does not acknowledge the dignity and respect of LGBT people,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “Chick-fil-A and the WinShape Foundation are at a turning point and face a fundamental question: will they continue actively using customer dollars to support groups that demonize LGBT people, or will they once and for all act like a responsible business and stop supporting discrimination?”
Martinez said that TCRA and Moreno expected people to doubt the claims.
“Of course people are going to be skeptical. They’re an anti-gay organization that is now trying to change their tune. It’s going to take time,” he said. “People are going to be skeptical. That was expected. We are skeptical too. We’re saying that we should call attention to it and see if they hold true to it. If they do, that’s obviously the appropriate outcome.”
Moreno and his Communications Director Matt Bailey could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.