by Leah Waldron
It looks like Dan Cathy just got the short end of the wishbone. In a letter to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, the WinShape Foundation (Chick-fil-A’s charitable endeavor) promised to stop giving donations to anti-gay marriage organizations, or any group that has a “political agenda.” WinShape chose Moreno because, like Boston Mayor Tom Menino, he was among the most outspoken opponents of CEO Dan Cathy’s “guilty as charged” stance on the Biblical definition of marriage, and had even tried to block any future Chick-fil-A construction in the city. As much as we would all love to feel comforted by this announcement, and it’s wonderful news, the Chick-fil-A corporation did not magically grow a set of morals. It stopped giving money to hate groups because it wanted, like any fast food chain, to open storefronts nationwide (and not just below the Mason Dixon line).
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And the new peaceful stance means that the National Organization for Marriage and Focus on the Family, two anti-gay hate groups that received millions from Chick-fil-A, are out of the pecking order for good (sorry… that was the last chicken pun, I promise). Losing an annual Chick-fil-A donation won’t shut these organizations down, but the new policy may set a precedent in corporate charity culture. (And, not to mention, can you imagine NOM president Brian Brown’s reaction when he choked on this bit of news?)
Chick-fil-A’s attitude adjustment is also good news for any person—in any part of the country—who decides to stop in to Chick-fil-A for a value meal. Since the Dan Cathy fiasco, every Chick-fil-A franchise must adhere to the company’s new anti-discrimination policy, which states that all workers must “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”
That’s a good start, I suppose, even if the employees’s bigotry was never the problem. Last time I checked, Chick-fil-A employees were kind of in the middle of this whole thing—just think about the crap they had to endure on Aug. 1, when every person in the Bible Belt showed up to buy some chicken. No, the real victims of Chick-fil-A’s new “everyone deserves respect” stance are the politicians (your Mike Huckabees); politicelebrities (your Sarah Palins); and any person who said that this was not about gay rights, but freedom of speech. Will this make them change their tune, as well?
Like Chick-fil-A’s new donation rule, the anti-discrimination policy is not about respecting people, but keeping more butts—both gay and straight—in the booths. After Dan Cathy’s announcement, the chain’s public opinion status took a serious dive, and that kind of negative publicity cannot be reversed with record “Appreciation Day” sales. Once an opinion is reached at the national level, it’s hard to stop that train (just ask Jack in the Box… they never recovered from the e Coli outbreak or the horse meat debacle… now all they have is a guy in a business suit with an ice cream cone for a head).
Thanks to that nut job Dan Cathy, fried chicken was not in the mainstream news because of health risks, but core beliefs. And what business wants half the country saying “no thanks” because of their opinion on gay marriage? It’s probably hard enough to sell fried chicken in health-conscious cities as it is.
Now that Chick-fil-A is a bit more like KFC (still killing chickens in unGodly ways, but shutting up about gay marriage), I’m going to put down my “tastes like hate” picket sign, but stay away just the same.
The Lost Ogle
The New York Times