Dan Cathy took part in Chick-fil-A talks on gay rights

August was a busy month at Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta, especially when it came to the topic of gay marriage.

On Wednesday, a Chicago alderman had dropped his objections to the first standalone Chick-fil-A restaurant in his city, after the fast-food franchise persuaded him that it had withdrawn from the political battle over same-sex marriage.

Several weeks of negotiations with Chick-fil-A executives had produced internal company guidelines that prohibit discrimination in hiring and customer service. Alderman Joe Moreno also said that, in August, executives of the family-held firm also opened the books of Chick-fil-A’s charitable foundation, to prove that it no longer gave money to groups opposing same-sex unions.

chickgay

Gay marriage supporters gathered at the Chick-fil-A store in Decatur in August for a "kiss-in" protest of company president Dan Cathy's stand on gay marriage. Phil Skinner, pskinner@ajc.com

Less known is the fact that, at the same time, Chick-fil-A was also holding talks with Campus Pride, a gay rights organization based in Charlotte, N.C., that had targeted the several hundred Chick-fil-A outlets on college campuses with an “education” campaign.

College students eat a lot of chicken sandwiches.

Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, paid his most recent visit to Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta last Monday, after which he announced the suspension of his group’s campaign. Windmeyer said he, too, was given a chance to preview Chick-fil-A’s new hiring and service policy. He, too, was offered evidence that the company’s WinShape Foundation no longer gives money to groups considered hostile to gay rights.

“Chick-fil-A has treated myself and my organization with dignity and respect. They really have been willing to sit down and dialogue. It hasn’t been an adversarial relationship,” Windmeyer said.

Those are words that Chick-fil-A is no doubt eager to have bronzed. But more important is the fact that Windmeyer said Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was personally involved in the negotiations, in both face-to-face meetings and telephone conversations.

A spokesman for Moreno said Friday that the alderman spoke by phone with Cathy.

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy. AP/Chick-fil-A, Stanley Leary

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy. AP/Chick-fil-A, Stanley Leary

It was Cathy, of course, who caused a stir this summer with comments declaring his support for traditional marriage between a man and a woman. “Well, guilty as charged,” Cathy told Baptist Press in July.

Gay rights activists and their allies immediately began organizing a shunning of the firm. Religious conservatives rallied to its side. Business analysts posited that the hoopla wouldn’t damage the largely Southern firm in the short term – though it could limit expansion opportunities in more liberal regions of the nation.

But clearly Chick-fil-A took the gay marriage threat seriously and began immediate efforts to defuse the situation.

Skeptics remain. Gay rights groups point out that even as his company was making nice last week, Cathy personally Tweeted a photo that showed him participating in a motorcycle ride to benefit a group called the Marriage and Family Foundation – a group that lobbies against gay marriage, and which once received funding from the company’s WinShape Foundation.

One presumes that Chick-fil-A will attempt to draw a line between Cathy family giving and its corporate largesse. How that sells is a matter for the future.

“We chose to suspend our campaign, not to end our campaign,” Windmeyer said. “Sometimes you have to be willing to put down the stick in order to listen to somebody.”

Two more aspects are worth noting about Chick-fil-A’s wrestling match over gay marriage.

That episode in Chicago, for instance, was brought about by an alderman’s veto power over a rezoning required for what will be Chick-fil-A’s first standalone restaurant in the city.

The alderman had that power because Chick-fil-A, an Atlanta firm, sought to subdivide and purchase a lot in the city currently owned by Home Depot, another Atlanta company.

The irony: Yes, Chick-fil-A has been the target of a two-month boycott spurred by its opposition to same-sex unions. But Home Depot has endured a much longer, though low-grade boycott by the American Family Association, a conservative group upset by the DIY company’s support for gay rights, including its steadfast participation in Atlanta’s annual gay pride parade.

Then there’s the matter of timing. In August, at the same time Chick-fil-A was negotiating its way out of the gay marriage debate, Republicans in Tampa were attempting the same maneuver.

Opposition to gay marriage was written into the platform adopted by the Republican National Convention. But that position never received a mention during three days of televised speeches. Like Chick-fil-A, Republicans decided to bow out of the dispute – at least while a general audience was watching.

Jamie Ensley, president of the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans, said he took solace from the omission. “Keeping it out of prime-time TV was the right thing to do,” he said.

Like Chick-fil-A, Republicans will soon have to choose between short-term politics and long-term expansion plans, he said. “It may take a couple of national elections to convince everyone,” Ensley said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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187 comments Add your comment

Ekim56

September 22nd, 2012
9:16 am

In the tradition of the sports blogs on the AJC… FIRST!

snobert

September 22nd, 2012
9:31 am

I guess this means that all the people who can’t mind their own business will stop eating at CFA. Get ready for the christian taliban boycott!

Christian

September 22nd, 2012
9:38 am

Enter your comments here

Gnarly Erik

September 22nd, 2012
9:46 am

Those efforts took courage by Dan Cathy. I applaud him and may now even patronize one of his restaurants again.

Christian

September 22nd, 2012
9:47 am

Donating money to organizations that seek to intentionally hurt and demonize gay families is anti-Christ. Claiming to be a Cristian, while giving money to carpetbagging Christians to prove that you are not gay is a hypocritical red herring. Good job Dan.

Wilbur@gmail.com

September 22nd, 2012
9:48 am

The rhetorical foolishness of “Christain Taliban” is both wrong and hateful. Notice how the religion of peace responds to a movie trailer, bringing the current administration to submission and fear. New York is about to re-exibit a crucifix in urine…can you imagine the response if that were a muslim artifact? Comparing Christians with whom you disagree to the unreasoned, violent extremism of the Taliban and similar muslim powers might sound clever in your ideological hothouse but in the real world sounds like a small minded, ignorant fool.

DollarDawg

September 22nd, 2012
9:51 am

Neither event will affect my patronization of Chick-fil-A. They serve good food and provide excellent customer service. I’ve been in their restaurants with other customers of varying backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. and we were all treated the same: We ordered our food, paid and were served accordingly.

What any company chooses to do with their earned profits is their own business. Sure, as consumers we can decide what entities we do business with but all of this really should have been a non-issue. I believe people/organizations with opposing interests (for lack of a better term) have used Chick-fil-A to further their own agenda.

If you don’t like the product or service of any company, patronize someone else but once you have freely given them your money for that product or service you have no right to tell them what to do with it. It belongs to them once you hand it over.

Remarkable

September 22nd, 2012
9:52 am

Dan Cathy, I for one am disappointed in the fact that you didn’t see the outpouring of support for a company that had values. Your biggest one day ever came about because of your stand in favor of a traditional view of marriage. Those in favor of “anything goes as long as I’m not hurting anyone”, tried a boycott that failed in so many ways. What did you do? You came out and decided to placate the ones who were attacking you, Chic-Fil-A and the organization that your Father built.
Three months ago you and Chic-Fil-A believed it was the right thing to do to support organizations that were trying to affirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Now, . . . not so much. Did your values change or your backbone?
A few college students and a Chicago alderman seem to have a lot more of your attention than the families that sent them to college and the voters that put him into office. I hope that the people who showered your company with such a huge outpouring of support will re mind you that the reason for that support was your former policy to value marriage not your current policy towards compromising your values.

Mind your own business...

September 22nd, 2012
10:02 am

How dare Cathy ‘open the books’ to these people! What’s next? Forcing him to turn over personal bank statements? Don’t worry about who is donating to whom. I’ve worked for a lot of businesses that could have on its books supporting everything from blood diamonds to ‘gay pride’ to the KKK. It doesn’t make me lose any sleep at night. Home Depot supports gay causes? So what? It’s still one of my favorite stores. I’m not going to boycott or protest or whine about it. For some reason, gay people think that they can bully everyone into supporting their issues. Bullying seems to only get attention when gays are the targets. What about everyone else?

The bottom line is this: America is a FREE country. Be responsible for your own dimes and open your own chicken restaurant if you are that disturbed.

ahsoisee

September 22nd, 2012
10:07 am

There is no reason for any business to donate any of their earnings to the gays or any other organization. All businesses should stop their donations to any cause unless it is a non-biased organization which provides funding to non-political entities. For instance, an organization that attempts to feed the hungry, regardless of their political affiliations, would seem to merit funding.

Why should any business think they should support gays? All of those who are against the practice of homosexuality assuredly does not appreciate this and have a right to avoid being customers of those institutions. Personally, I will never purchase another item from Amazon since their owner donated 2.5 million dollars to the gay organization. I quit purchasing home building materials from Home Depot because of their donations to gay organizations. I now shop at Lowes.

A business should be a non-participant in any political activity as their customers are divided for and against every political activity. They should fund only non-political benevolent organizations which help all humanity and no group of individuals in particular. I definitely do not want any of the money I pay for a purchase to go to supporting the evil practice of homosexuality.

However, there should also be no restraints against any company, nor within any company, demanding that the individuals accept a given political stance. The company should be able to set guidelines for its employees prior to their hiring, and the employees then would be bound by that contract.

Any individual, manager, or owner of a business should be able to express their own beliefs and preferences in thjeir own personal life, but not speak for the company. If a company is set up on certain religious or political standards and the interested employee signs a contract adhering to those policies, then that is a different situation, and the company has the right to hold the employees to their contract promises.

Mark H

September 22nd, 2012
10:08 am

Bigotry wrapped in prayer is still bigotry.

And the point is...

September 22nd, 2012
10:10 am

Racism wrapped in prayer is still racism.

J

September 22nd, 2012
10:11 am

It is a SAD DAY when the bullying sets precedence over what one believes in. Freedom of Speech has just ended! Shame On the bullies (of course we wouldn’t think of calling them that) and shame on Dan Cathy for not standing firm to his belief and instead let the almighty dollar take over, instead of the ALMIGHTY himself!

So?

September 22nd, 2012
10:12 am

And a chicken sandwich is still a chicken sandwich.

Christian

September 22nd, 2012
10:13 am

Actually, it is the organizations that Cathy supports that actively and intentionally seek policies that hurt gay families and hurt children. These anti-Christian organization need to mind their own families and leave gay families to mind their own affairs. This is America, not Iran.

dcr

September 22nd, 2012
10:14 am

Well said, Remarkable.

DLink

September 22nd, 2012
10:17 am

The core of the whole gay marriage fight comes straight down to equal rights. That’s something I believe in. The core of the entire argument is simply the legal right to be able to see your S/O (Significant Other) in the hospital when they’re injure, or ill. It’s about legal right to care for a child as a parent. When a mother dies, the legal right of her other mother, or father to pass guardianship of a child to the S/O. It’s about when somebody dies the legal right of the S/O and not his/her family choosing the funeral arrangements. It’s about all the legal rights that got bound up in the thing called “marriage”.

Confer these legal rights into a “Civil Union” and 90% of the hardcore activism goes away. Poof. Because, those people who’ve suffered from the adverse affects of the law are the screaming mad center of this controversy. There will still be a few fighting to get gay marriage incorporated into the church because they’ve managed to retain their faith while in a gay union of 2 people and want to be accepted. Call the relationship a “Life Partner”, adopt all the legal rights endowed to a legal marriage, call it a day. You’re done with all the legal (90%) strife of equal rights. The MANY various churches can choose to accept the idea, or not, that would be church business. The legal aspects are all our business, and I’m pro equal rights as I’ve mentioned.

I’m glad Dan Cathy put away the corporate guns on the issue. That money was made by the people working in every corporate office and every franchise by all kinds of people with various takes on this subject. To say all that hard work and effort is put forth to espouse a single viewpoint is disingenuous. Every individual has their own viewpoint, equality. Let the people speak.

East Cobb RINO

September 22nd, 2012
10:25 am

So Dan Cathy caves to Chicago and Campus Pride. Profits trump convictions. That is so Republican of him.

isee

September 22nd, 2012
10:26 am

And why stop at chicken?

September 22nd, 2012
10:26 am

I dare all of you to go demand ‘the books’ of every single establishment that you patronize for the upcoming week (and this includes PRIVATE businesses as well, since CFA is a PRIVATE corporation, but the gov’t may do away with private enterprise soon anyway).

So, as I was saying, go demand ‘the books’ on every single establishment next week. Then, the week after that, demand the personal bank statements of every employee that you encounter.

Come back to this page in 2 weeks, and let us know what you’ve uncovered and what places you plan to protest and maybe we’ll meet you there. Let’s have some fun with this thing.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

September 22nd, 2012
10:27 am

There that is better. Must be a corporation so I can use my free speech rights.

Jon Lester

September 22nd, 2012
10:28 am

None of this changes my choice to eat better, for my own health.

Bob

September 22nd, 2012
10:29 am

@Christian “Actually, it is the organizations that Cathy supports that actively and intentionally seek policies that hurt gay families and hurt children” Really ? So can you show us the children hurt by these policies ?

Look before I leap...

September 22nd, 2012
10:30 am

I seriously doubt that Dan Cathy or CFA can be “bullied” into anything.
Is it not possible that Mr Cathy decided to end corporate support of organizations that promote intolerance and hate because he understands that such support is distinctly un-Christian?
An action that come of the hand-wringers on here might want to consider emulating.

Bob

September 22nd, 2012
10:32 am

@isee” biggots ” Cute, would have been better if you new how to spell.

That's funny...

September 22nd, 2012
10:34 am

People are talking about what’s Christian and un-Christian, but whenever Christianity is mocked, no one says much. We’ll see how folks treat the notion of Christmas this year.

Steve

September 22nd, 2012
10:37 am

Nothing has changed. CFA is still a bigot company. Let those blind sheep continue to eat there. Stupid is as stupid does. Can’t help the ignorant.

LydiasDad

September 22nd, 2012
10:38 am

Cowards. Why is the left ok with politicians using their power to punish private business over social issues? CFA has every right to support traditional marriage, and it’s not “anti-gay”. I’ll bet if the Chicago politicans punished a company that supported left-wing causes, the left would be up in arms. It’s nothing but Fascism.

LydiasDad

September 22nd, 2012
10:40 am

Marriage is not a right. Gays don’t have the right to marry. And religion isn’t their greatest enemy. Nature is.

MANGLER

September 22nd, 2012
10:45 am

I knew the tolerant and loving christians would scream, yell, and boycott over this. Free speech and civil rights, unless it’s not in your specific singular view of course. Odd how you chastize the people who chose to boycott CFA, but now you’re going to do just that.

It’s not caving in, it’s opening up.

Ben Russell

September 22nd, 2012
10:48 am

It would be nice to think this particular group of bigoted homophobes are actually going to join the rest of the world in the 21st century. The world no longer needs people who wish to trample on other individual’s rights !

Crazygirl

September 22nd, 2012
10:48 am

Good attempt at PR clean up. Sadly, it only strengthens my belief that the All Might Dollar is held in a higher regard to Republicans than their All Mighty One.

Look before I leap...

September 22nd, 2012
10:49 am

If marriage is not a “right”, then heterosexuals have no more fundamental civil claim to to it any more than homosexuals.
Personally I don’t care what a church chooses to do regarding marriage.
I DO care what the state does in that regard and the state should not be in the business of discrimination.

and @That’s funny:
I am not mocking Christianity, I am mocking your perverted belief of what it means to BE a Christian.

Look before I leap...

September 22nd, 2012
10:55 am

@Lydiasdad:
You should stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. He has a very questionable grasp of the English language.

fas·cism/ˈfaSHizəm/
Noun:

1. An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.
2. (in general use) Extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice

Mike

September 22nd, 2012
11:06 am

@Leap… people don’t “hate” because they have a different opinion than you. Apparently, “hate” is a doctrinal word employed by Gay activitists to bully the country into agreeing with their political position.

DLink

September 22nd, 2012
11:06 am

Didn’t know if this forum supports links, so I’ve posted this separately.
http://preview.tinyurl.com/8ettjv3
Welcoming Gay Friendly Churches in Georgia – GA

I ain’t gay, just know a few good men and women who have a different outlook on life than myself. I’m “understanding” as are these churches. This, because I also understand those who hold firmly to their faith while in a lifelong relationship that isn’t very common. Call me a friendly Buddhist.

JBT

September 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

Freedom Manifesto by Steve Forges..(read it).Why free markets are moral and Big Government isn’t. Whats happen to our freedoms in America? If you against something you can’t even stand up and say it anymore without getting killed. Everyday we loose more and more of our freedom, wake up America. If you don’t agree with someone its ok you don’t try to destroy that person. God Bless America we need it bad.
Please stop giving Billions to all those Countries that are trying to kill us..middle East. Damn Americans stand up for our right. Stop giving in to them. Get some balls. Our foreign policy sucks.

reality

September 22nd, 2012
11:15 am

The obvious intention is now out of the closet ….. Chick-fil-a is driven primilary by profits not other priorities. Shame on them for being so ambiguous.

Employee

September 22nd, 2012
11:18 am

This is false. Shouldn’t believe everything you read.

reality

September 22nd, 2012
11:18 am

Bottom line : All of this was discussed and solved 2000 years ago —- A Man cannot serve 2 masters.

JBT

September 22nd, 2012
11:34 am

Amen!
Well said “reality”.

Employee

September 22nd, 2012
11:35 am

Look before I leap...

September 22nd, 2012
11:36 am

@Mike:
So the guys who stoned a teenager to death in Wyoming did so not out of hate, but simply because they disagreed with Matthew Shepard’s viewpoint on homosexuality?

When you can cite a case where a mob of gay people killed someone because that person was heterosexual, then perhaps we can have an intelligent conversation on what is means to hate in this country.

My Two Cents

September 22nd, 2012
11:37 am

I am sorry CFA caved in to the gay rights agenda. More bullying by people who disagree and will force their opinions and agendas to get their way. If you don’t believe in the principle’s of the founder of CFA don’t visit their business. As previously mentioned many people took time out of their day several weeks ago to show support for CFA’s stand only to have their support and statement ignored. They, too, can make choices in where they purchase their next chicken sandwich. The pendulum swings both ways.

CJ

September 22nd, 2012
11:44 am

Equal rights for consenting adults is NOT CAVING IN. It’s called DOING THE RIGHT THING.

CJ

September 22nd, 2012
11:46 am

Look Before I Leap: Amen! Gays have NEVER attacked straight people. Gays have never marched in the name of prohibiting straight marriage or prohibiting divorce. One side is unequivocally more violent than the other.

It's a damn shame

September 22nd, 2012
11:47 am

Pack you bags and sell the dog….this makes me sick. To see my hero cave in to this bully….I am so sick and tired of the pressure of political correctness…God forbid someone gets their fellings hurt…I am getting the hell out of this country before it falls….

Chuck

September 22nd, 2012
11:47 am

More good news:
The Boy Scouts of America has lost its largest corporate donor, Intel, which announced Friday that it will no longer support the group until it vows to stop discriminating against gay people

Lee Springsteen

September 22nd, 2012
11:50 am

This article glosses over the facts and makes it sound like CFA caved in to the pro gay marriage groups in Chicago – they did not. See the full story here: http://www.citizenlink.com/2012/09/20/chick-fil-a-sets-the-record-straight-2/#.UFyCrDbTKsU.twitter

Look before I leap...

September 22nd, 2012
11:57 am

The irony in the right-wingers conscription of the term “bullying” when it comes to those who choose to exercise their 1st amendment right to call out, condemn and take non-violent action against those who advocate discrimination is nothing short of astonishing.

I have to hand it to the Christian “right”. They have an excellent PR machine that is very good at couching their bigotry in palatable terms and then screaming about how Christians are under “attack” and are being “bullied” when someone dares to stand up against them.