A Chicago lawmaker says that Chick-fil-A is re-evaluating the multimillion-dollar donations the company gives to anti-gay marriage activists and other groups with “political agendas,” a month after company CEO Dan Cathy’s pro-traditional marriage comments created a firestorm in the fast-food world between LGBT supporters and gay-marriage opponents.
After weeks of negotiations with city Alderman Joe Moreno, the fast-food restaurant agreed to take “a much closer look” at which groups receive donations from the WinShape Foundation, a non-profit created by the Cathy family and funded almost entirely by Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, the company told Moreno.
“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,” Chick-fil-A’s senior director of real estate said in a letter to Moreno.
Between 2008 and 2010, the WinShape Foundation gave $3.2 million to groups that advocate against same-sex marriage, according to the group’s tax reports. That included $2,000 to the Family Research Council, which was designated as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010, and $2,500 to the Alliance Defense Fund, which supported California’s Proposition 8 to outlaw gay marriage.
The Family Research Council and the Alliance Defense Fund did not return requests for comment.
News of these donations, which was sparked by Cathy’s saying he supports “the biblical definition of the family unit,” sparked national outcry from gay-marriage activists and an overwhelmingly supportive response from traditional-marriage conservatives, who turned out in droves to dine at Chick-fil-A restaurants Aug. 1.
Moreno, who represents the ritzy Northwest Side of Chicago, vowed to block construction of a new Chick-fil-A restaurant in his ward after Cathy’s remarks. But in a statement today, Moreno commended the company for making “real progress” toward addressing “the very legitimate concerns of the LGBT community regarding Chick-fil-A.”
When ABC News requested clarification from Chick-fil-A on the policies that Moreno says are new, the company resent a statement from July, when the controversy about its traditional marriage support first erupted.
“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,” Chick-fil-A spokeswoman Tracey Micit said in the statement. “Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
Along with re-evaluating funding to anti-gay marriage activist groups, Moreno said, Chick-fil-A has agreed to amend its corporate policy to include sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policy.
“The company today has put into writing, for the first time, that its employees are to ‘treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender. .. our intent is not to engage in political or social debates,” Moreno said in a statement.
Because of such changes to company policy, Moreno said he will recommend to the Chicago City Council that Chick-fil-A construction plans be approved for its new location in Chicago.
The WinShape foundation directed all comments through the Chick-fil-A headquarters, which declined to comment on the company’s donations.