The leader of a national gay-rights group says he’s coming out–as a friend of Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy.
“I’ve gotten to know Dan, he’s gotten to know me. He’s shared concerns about young people, about Chick-fil-A being used for certain purposes,” Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, told ABC News.
Last year, Cathy sparked a national controversy by telling a radio host that “we’re 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. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”
Windmeyer said that Cathy called him last year, during the heat of the controversy that led national gay-rights groups to protest Chick-fil-A. Cathy reached out seeking advice and understanding, Windmeyer said. Windmeyer was a guest of Cathy’s at this year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl between LSU and Clemson at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The activist also says Chick-fil-A has stopped donating to anti-gay groups, according to his review of the company’s 990 tax forms.
For years, Chick-fil-A donated to socially conservative groups, drawing the ire of gay-rights activists. In July, Equality Matters examined tax forms and found that in 2010 the restaurant chain had donated over $1.9 million to “anti-gay causes.” In September, the restaurant chain pledged to stop donating to anti-gay groups. Windmeyer says those donations stopped in 2011.
“In 2011, [according to] the 990s that I saw, they did stop funding the more divisive, anti-gay groups that actively work to harm and hurt LGBT people,” Windmeyer told ABC News.
Windmeyer says he knows he and Cathy disagree about gay marriage but that they’ve reached an understanding of each other as people.
“If my husband and I ever get the right to marry in North Carolina, I’ll include Dan Cathy on the guest list,” he told ABC News.
Chick-fil-A did not respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE: Chick-fil-A offers a written statement:
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.