Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chick-fil-A, gay rights and N.C. colleges

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Over the last month, there's been a swirl of controversy surrounding fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A. Why? Because the chicken peddler has been making questionable donations to anti-gay rights groups, which has put its relationship with North Carolina colleges in limbo.

he homophobic narrative around Chick-fil-A -- most notably the company's ties to anti-gay organizations like Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, the Ruth Institute, and the Pennsylvania Family Institute -- continues to define the popular chicken chain as 2011 rolls along.Last week, a gay rights organization in Missouri successfully got a local chamber of commerce to dis-invite Chick-fil-A's President, Dan Cathy, from speaking at an event due to the restaurant's political and financial support of leading anti-LGBT organizations. Now arrives word, thanks to QNotes, that several North Carolina colleges might be reconsidering whether to support the presence of Chick-fil-A on campus.

In the article, QNotes points out that Duke University is in the process of "reviewing their relationship with Chick-fil-A." Earlier this year, a few days after the Chick-fil-A story started to get traction, Duke's student newspaper featured a scathing editorial that suggested Chick-fil-A didn't belong on campus.

"At a place like Duke, where we have a history of activism and a culture that strives to accept others and be agents of change, Chick-fil-A is no longer in keeping with the institution and the values of the people here. In short, this is where its lack of corporate social responsibility deservedly should come back to haunt them," the article said.

The other school mentioned in the QNotes piece is N.C. State University. Justine Hollingshead, director for N.C. State University’s GLBT Programs and Services, told QNotes that students on campus are talking about what position to take on Chick-fil-A, and that she believes students ought to be the deciding factor in what vendors are available on campus.

Meanwhile, Dan Cathy once again said this week that his company isn't anti-gay, just adhering to biblical principles.

Chick-fil-A has stood on principals since opening, forgoing additional profits by closing on Sundays. But has the company crossed the line with these donations?

He added that while he and his company (via franchise donations and/or support through Chick-fil-A's charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation) will continue to support organizations like Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, and others opposed to LGBT equality, gay people are always welcome to buy chicken sandwiches from his restaurants."We're a restaurant that has a hospitality that says we're here to embrace everyone who wants to come and be part of Chick-fil-A," Cathy said, after his speaking gig in St. Louis was nixed. "So to be identified with some sort of hate group that has a political agenda -- that is not Chick-fil-A at all."

But actually, that is Chick-fil-A. At least until Chick-fil-A stops giving donations to or holding retreats for some of the most leading anti-LGBT organizations in the country.

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