CHICAGO — LGBT advocacy group Equality Illinois on Tuesday kicked off a multi-faceted “Flick-the-Hate” campaign aimed at Illinois communities where Chick-fil-A has franchises, a response to the fast-food chain’s millions of dollars in donations to anti-LGBT organizations, and anti-gay comments by its president.
Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest LGBT rights organization, and its partners are asking Illinois universities, businesses and municipalities to challenge the discriminatory policies of the fast food chain, and to end all relationships with its local restaurants.
Most of the 19 Chick fil-A restaurants in Illinois are on college campuses or in shopping malls.
“Chick fil-A wants to make a profit in places of public accommodation, including many of the state’s public and private universities and shopping malls, while espousing hateful rhetoric,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois.
“As we question the company’s anti-LGBT policies, we must ask the universities and mall owners why they want to do business with a company that holds up hate as a family value,” he said.
As part of the campaign, celebrity chef Art Smith and his husband Jesus Salguiero are lending their personal support to Equality Illinois by hosting a “Chicken Fry for Equality” fundraiser at their Chicago home on Sunday, July 29.
Smith has been a vocal critic of the chain’s anti-equality posiitons, speaking out in media and online to voice his concerns.
“Jesus and I look to the day where the rest of gay America will see and experience what we’ve enjoyed as a married gay couple,” Smith said.
Smith, 52, who served as Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for 10 years, and Salguiero married in the District of Columbia in 2010.
Equality Illinos is also launching a statewide petition asking university presidents and corporate mall executives to “flick” the hateful restaurants off their premises.
“Chick-fil-A can continue to do unimpeded business in Illinois at a price, and that price is ending the use of the chain as a springboard for promoting policies that are harmful to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” Cherkasov said.