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Chick-fil-A LGBT: Timeline of background, stance on same-sex marriage

Tijen Butler April 4, 2019
Chick-fil-A has faced a boycott for funding anti-LGBT causes

Chick-fil-A has faced a boycott for funding anti-LGBT causes (Alex Wong/Getty)

For years, Chick-fil-A has been known for its stance against same-sex marriage. But what are the facts about the chain’s background on LGBT+ rights?

Chick-fil-A’s reputation within the LGBT+ community is so poor that the chain constantly makes international headlines regarding boycotts and new revelations regarding their donations to anti-LGBT groups.

Below is a timeline of Chick-fil-A’s LGBT history, from the comments of their CEO to the efforts of franchise managers, and the backlashes caused by their donations to anti-LGBT charities that are against equal rights.

2011: Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBT donations almost double

Chick-fil-A’s donations to anti-LGBT groups had almost doubled in 2011. This wasn’t revealed until 2013.

For example, the Chick-fil-A Foundation—the chain’s charitable arm—gave $1,188,380 (£741,631) to the Marriage and Family Foundation in 2010, and in 2011 it increased its donation to a generous $2,896,438 (£1,919,822).

The website for Marriage and Family Foundation says that they aim to “protect marriage” as “a lifelong union between one man and one woman.”

2012: Chick-fil-A boss confirms they are opposed to equal marriage

In 2012, it was revealed that Chick-fil-A had donated millions of dollars to several anti-LGBT groups including the Family Research Council, Exodus International and Focus on the Family.

Chick-fil-A boss Dan Cathy also officially confirmed that the US fast food company is against same-sex marriage.

Chick-fil-A protestors
Protestors hold signs outside a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Hollywood in 2012 (ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages)

This information caused a string of immediate consequences. For example, Mayor Thomas M Menino of Boston suggested that he would block the chain from opening in the city due to its discrimination.

Similarly, Chicago politician Joe Moreno said, “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbours and residents.

“[Permitting Chick-fil-A to open a store here] would be a bad investment, since it would be empty.”

Responding to the immediate criticism, the company released a statement saying: “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.”

In the years that followed, there have been many protests and various universities have banned Chick-fil-A branches from their grounds. Most recently, in 2019, San Antonio International Airport banned a new outlet from opening.

2012: Gay Chick-fil-A employees speak out

In 2012, after the CEO’s announcement, LGBT+ employees spoke out about what it’s like working at a Chick-fil-A.

One gay employee, who had worked there for seven years, said that diners would enter outlets and “say something truly homophobic, e.g. ‘I’m so glad you don’t support the queers, I can eat in peace.’”

Chick-Fil-A opened in Manhattan in 2015, but Rider University does not want the fast food restaurant on its campus, causing a dean to resign.
The exterior of Chick-Fil-A, a day before its opening, on 37th Street and 6th Avenue, on October 2, 2015 in New York City. (Andrew Renneisen/Getty)

But then, on the other flip of the coin, the same employee revealed that he also faced this: “I was yelled at for being a god-loving, conservative, homophobic Christian while walking some food out to a guest in a mall dining room.

Another former employee, who worked there for nine years, said: “It’s become a safe place for people to hate and expect to be patted on the back for it. I don’t want to work in that kind of environment.”

2013: Dan Cathy tweets his opposition of DOMA repeal

In 2013, the CEO of Chick-fil-A posted a tweet opposing the strike-down of the Defense of Marriage Act, which had denied federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Cathy had written: “Sad day for our nation; founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to abandon wisdom of the ages re: cornerstone of strong societies.”

The tweet was later removed.

2014: Chick-fil-A boss regrets voicing past comments but stands by what he said

In 2014, Chick-fil-A boss Dan Cathy said that while he regretted getting the company entangled in anti-LGBT controversy, he hadn’t changed his personal views on same-sex marriage.

Cathy said: “The bottom line is we have a responsibility here to keep the whole of the organization in mind and it has to take precedence over the personal expression and opinion on social issues.”

He continued: “By recognizing the mistakes that you make, [you] learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.”

2017: Chick-fil-A donates over $1.8 million to anti-LGBT groups

Despite years of controversy, Chick-fil-A continued to donate large amounts to anti-LGBT charities.

The company donated $1,653,416 to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2017, according to ThinkProgress.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a non-profit Christian sports ministry, requires staff to accept “sexual purity” policing, forbidding “homosexual acts.”

That same year, Chick-fil-A also gave $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, a Christian residential home for troubled young people and $150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has a history of advocating against legal protections for LGBT+ individuals in the US.

Has Chick-fil-A done anything to support the LGBT+ community?

Despite the CEO’s stance on same-sex marriage and the company’s donations, Chick-fil-A still has both LGBT+ customers and employees.

What’s more, branch managers and owners have made efforts to show their support for the LGBT+ community.

For example, one manager of a New Hampshire branch was the co-sponsor of the 2012 New Hampshire Pride Festival.

The Chick-fil-A manager released a statement saying: “In both my personal and professional life, I have had, and continue to have, positive relationships with family, friends, customers and employees in the LGBT+ community, it would make me sad if someone felt that they were not openly welcomed into my life or restaurant based on their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”

Similarly, in 2013, in hopes to change the company’s LGBT+ reputation, a Californian owner-operator of a Chick-fil-A branch gave out dozens of free coupons for chicken at a pro-marriage equality rally.

And in 2015, the chain became a sponsor of Iowa City Pride event.

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