The chickens are coming home to roost. So says Equality Matters, the LGBT media watchdog group, which revealed that the Chick-Fil-A fast food chain donated nearly $2 million to anti-gay groups in 2009, the most recent year for which its IRS filings are available. The news seems to contradict statements Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy made earlier this year in which he denied that the company has an anti-gay agenda.
The donations to at least seven religious conservative groups came from WinShape, the charitable arm of the Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A, Inc. The recipients of WinShape’s $1,733,699 would make anyone choke on her nuggets. IRS records show that WinShape donated $994,199 to the Marriage and Family Legacy Fund, a group founded by Chick-Fil-A’s senior vice president Donald “Bubba” Cathy, to fund national media campaigns for “traditional” marriage. The Fellowships of Christian Athletes and the National Christian Foundation received $480,000 and $240,000, respectively, to promote homosexuality-free lifestyles.
Four other recipients of Chick-Fil-A’s scratch should be familiar to gay girls as the most radical of Religious Right activists: Focus on the Family ($12,500), Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum ($5,000), the notorious “ex-gay” ministry Exodus International ($1,000) and the Family Research Council ($1,000). All four believe homosexuality is immoral and dangerous, and frequently influence conservative lawmakers’ policy decisions.
Dan Cathy’s insistence that Chick-Fil-A has no “agenda against anyone” rings false for those who read between the lines. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in January 2011, Cathy said, “While my family and I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage, we love and respect anyone who disagrees.” But the chain still incorporates distinct, if subtle, Christian principles into its business practices—for example, restaurants are closed on Sundays and some franchises play contemporary Christian music in the dining area. The company has denied rumors that it considers applicants’ marital status and church affiliation in its hiring decisions. In 2005, the chain partnered with Focus on the Family to distribute CDROMs of its Adventures in Odyssey radio program, containing “exciting entertainment, along with important moral and biblical principles,” in every kids’ meal.
Chick-Fil-A has not commented on Equality Matters’ findings, but here’s the bottom line: This chicken is for the birds.