Outspoken gay ally, Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno announced late Tuesday that he’d reached a tentative deal with Chick-fil-A over his pledge to block the chain from opening locations in his ward over anti-gay donations, according to LGBT website Chicago Phoenix.
According to the alderman, the chain and its charitable arm will cease all donations to anti-gay political organizations, as well as clarify its LGBT non-discrimination policies regarding employment and customer service. Chick-fil-A did not immediately confirm with the Washington Blade that the statements made in the press release are true.
UPDATE: Chick-fil-A responded to the Blade with the following:
“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,” (see statement bellow).
“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of Chicago-based LGBT organization, The Civil Rights Agenda, who worked with Moreno in an advisory capacity. “I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.”
Members of the LGBT community and their allies had for the past several years expressed concern over support the fast food chain granted anti-gay groups — including some that the Southern Poverty Law Center has certified has hate groups — through its charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation.
Organizations of the likes of Exodus International, Focus on the Family, and The Family Research Council have for many years received donations from the WinShape Foundation, which is primarily funded by Chick-Fil-A. Also troubling to many advocates, WinShape backed a website aiming to promote marriage so “more kids can receive the documented benefits from being raised by both their mother and father in a healthy-marriage home,” originally called ‘LoveIsHere.com’ but now called ‘LoveGivesFirst.com,’ which — according to gay website, GoodAsYou.org — held contests with prizes funded by the Ruth Institute, the educational arm of anti-gay organization National Organization for Marriage. In addition, the WinShape foundation’s marriage retreat grounds in Mt. Berry, Ga., have long excluded same-sex couples, an issue the new developments still do not address.
The connections to anti-gay organizations had long dogged the company, which saw efforts to evict the restaurant on dozens of American colleges where the chain was present on campus. The issue reached a head earlier this year, however, when Dan Cathy, the COO and son of the company’s founder, told the Baptist Press that Chick-fil-A is “guilty as charged” when accused of being hostile toward same-sex couples, and then later claimed that allowing same-sex couples to marry was “inviting God’s judgement on our nation…” on a conservative talk show.
In July, Chick-fil-A released the following statement:
Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.
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.
“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,” read a letter addressed to Moreno signed by John E. Featherston, Jr., Chick-fil-A’s senior director of real estate. Moreno had threatened to block the restaurant from opening in Chicago’s First Ward over their outstanding anti-gay grievances, and had been working quietly behind the scenes with the company to reach the deal over today’s new assurances for at least ten months. We were not able to independently confirm whether or not Dan Cathy has also signed off on the new policies, nor whether WinShape’s Board of Directors or staff has agreed to the new terms. WinShape’s website does not list any members of its board or staff.
Additionally, according to The Civil Rights Agenda, Chick-fil-A claims to have sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that states that as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.”