Chick-fil-A: "We have no agenda, policy or position against anyone"

SDGLN readers respond with mixed reactions

CHICAGO – Chick-fil-A has responded to a Chicago Phoenix exclusive, shared by media partner San Diego Gay & Lesbian News late Tuesday night, that reported the fast-food chain and its non-profit foundation would stop making donations to anti-gay organizations and institute a new policy mandating equal treatment to all employees and customers.

Steve Robinson, executive vice president of marketing, issued the following statement today to Chicago Phoenix regarding Chick-fil-A and its nonprofit WinShape Foundation:

“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. 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.”

Robinson said the company serves and values everyone regardless of their beliefs or opinions, a statement issued on its Facebook page in mid-July after a major uproar ensued when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy publicly denounced marriage equality and said the chain supported marriage between one man and one woman.

Cathy’s pronouncements led to nationwide boycotts against Chick-fil-A, including in San Diego, as well as a very successful one-day “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” organized by Religious Right and conservative supporters.

At the same time, several city leaders at major cities around the U.S., including Chicago, denounced the chain for its discrimination. Chicago Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno led the efforts to prevent Chick-fil-A from opening a new restaurant in his district, until he broke the news on Tuesday that the chain had changed its position.

Dozens of SDGLN readers left comments on the story via Facebook, and seemed split between applause for the decision and skepticism that Chick-fil-A had truly mended its ways:

Tara Tomlinson of Ellenton, Fla.: “hmmm....funny how formerly unshakable views based on "God's Laws" suddenly become rather flexible when money is involved.....”

Mary Simms of St. Louis: “How do we know if this is real or a marketing ploy?”

Ashley Bell of Richmond, Calif: “Well it IS a marketing ploy. They lost business because of their position so now thy're ding damage control. Pro gay rights is now the winning team, and these people are now just learning it.”

Stephen Grant at the University of Iowa: “While a change in its policies is good news, we don't really know all the details behind the change within Chick-Fil-A and what motivated it. I'm thinking money more than "I like LGBT people." The same hoards of sexually prejudiced people who came out in droves to support the CEO still hold the same antigay attitudes; the CEO and most likely many of its employees are not suddenly pro-gay. A significant move forward in fighting prejudice, but trust is earned. Seems like shameless self-promotion in some regards. Hmmm.”

Aaron Borovoy at UCSD: “Until there's a corroborating statement from higher up at Chick-fil-A itself, I'm not believing it.”

That skepticism extended to some national organizations.

Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, issued this statement today:

"If reports are accurate, this news is a big victory for all the people who stood up for equality and against hate. From politics to business to culture as a nation we are seeing a historic shift towards equality for all. While large majorities of Americans believe in equality, a few continue to discriminate against millions of Americans and stand in the way of progress. If true, today's move by Chick-fil-A is a big step in the right direction. Discrimination and hate have no place in this country."

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