US fast food store Chick-fil-A has released a statement after its chief operating officer declared the company was against marriage equality.

On Monday, Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press that the company was “guilty as charged”, when asked about its perceived opposition to equal marriage.

Today, the company released a statement saying it aimed to treat everyone with “honour, dignity and respect”.

The chain said: “The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honour, 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.”

However, the firm went on to cite its religious beliefs and donations to anti-gay groups, saying: “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.”

Chick-fil-A has given millions of dollars to groups including the Family Research Council, Exodus International and Focus on the Family.

Yesterday, Ed Helms, star of the Hangover films and the Office sitcom said he will boycott the company over the donations.

He told his Twitter followers: “Chick-fil-A doesn’t like gay people? So lame. Hate to think what they do to the gay chickens! Lost a loyal fan.”