Did Chick-Fil-A Change Its Marriage-Advocacy Policy?

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 19 2012 10:33 AM

Chick-Fil-A Is Done Fighting Gay Marriage. Kind Of, Maybe.

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A Chick-fil-A restaurant August 1, 2012 in Manassas, Virginia on Chick-fil-A "Day of Appreciation"

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/GettyImages.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Chick-fil-A is looking to put this summer's fast-food culture wars behind it and will no longer donate money to groups fighting to block same-sex marriage—at least that's what gay rights advocates in Chicago are saying. The chicken chain, however, is saying suspiciously little about the whole thing.

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Advocacy group The Civil Rights Agenda claims that the pledge came in the form of a letter the company sent to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who had opposed the fast food chain's expansion into the city. The letter, according to the group, promised that the company's not-for-profit arm, the WinShape Foundation, "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." Chick-fil-A is also apparently circulating an internal memo that states the company will "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender."

Moreno, it seems, has been appeased by the new developments and, according to the Chicago Tribune, will no longer stand in the way of Chick-fil-A opening a chain in the Windy City's increasingly trendy Northwest Side ward.

While Moreno described the apparent change in Chick-fil-A policy as a "big win," the Tribune keeps things in perspective:

"[T]he company made nearly identical pledges in a July 19 Facebook post that went up even before Moreno took issue with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's opposition to gay marriage. The statement of respect also falls short of Moreno's goal of adding language opposing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the company's employee handbook."

Company officials, meanwhile, have been tight-lipped on the decision. When contacted by BuzzFeed, a spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the report, instead sending along an emailed statement reiterating what the chain says has been its stance all along.

"We have no agenda, policy or position against anyone," the statement said. "We have a 65-year history of providing hospitality for all people and, as a dedicated family business, serving and valuing everyone regardless of their beliefs or opinions. The genuine, historical intent of our WinShape Foundation and corporate giving has been to support youth, family and educational programs."

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