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Chick-fil-A to end anti-gay donations, mandates equal treatment of gays

By Tony Merevick| Chicago Phoenix
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
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CHICAGO — After months of negotiations with Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno over its anti-gay positions and donations, Chick-fil-A has agreed to cease donations from its non-profit charity to anti-gay organizations and issued a company-wide internal mandate calling for the equal treatment of all employees and customers, the alderman said.

WinShape, a non-profit funded by the College Park, Ga.-based chicken chain, has donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBT organizations — some classified hate groups — including Focus on the Family, according to The Civil Rights Agenda, which worked with Moreno and company executives in an advisory capacity as they negotiated to adopt new policies.

Tony Merevick, Chicago Phoenix

Protesters at a Chicago Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1, 2012.

“At Chick-fil-A, we have a genuine commitment to hospitality for all of our guests. We have no agenda, policy or position against anyone,” said Steve Robinson, executive vice president of marketing in statement to Chicago Phoenix. “The genuine, historical intent of our WinShape Foundation and corporate giving has been to support youth, family and educational programs. We value everyone and strive to treat all people with a caring spirit.”

Chick-fil-A serves and values everyone regardless of their beliefs or opinions, Robinson said. The company made similar statements on its Facebook page in mid-July — before the controversy erupted over comments made by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, in which he reiterated the company’s support for marriage between a man and woman and his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“This is a win for the LGBT community,” Moreno said in a statement provided by TCRA. “This is a win for everyone who works for the cause of equal rights, and a win for Chick- fil-A. This is a win for all.”

The shift could ease intense opposition from the local LGBT community and the alderman that left many pitted against the restaurant chain’s plans to open a new location in the city.

“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Ald. Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of TCRA. “I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights.”

The company reportedly outlined its shift in policy and practice in a letter addressed to Moreno, who in July declared that he would block the popular fast food chain from opening a new location in his ward unless they adopted gay-friendly policies. The letter, signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate reads, “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,” according to Martinez.

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