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Domestic News | September 19, 2012

Chick-fil-A silent on defunding claims

Domestic News

Company not answering questions about whether it plans to stop supporting Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage

Associated Press/Photo by Matt York

A civil rights group that advocates for gay causes issued a statement yesterday claiming fast-food company Chick-fil-A will stop funding organizations the activists call "hate groups," including Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.

The statement from The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) stemmed from a discussion between Chick-fil-A and Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno regarding whether or not Moreno would allow the company to open restaurants in his district. Moreno was one of several local politicians from various cities who said they would oppose the company after President and COO Dan Cathy made public statements in support of traditional marriage.

A Chick-fil-A spokeswoman declined to comment on TCRA's claims, issuing the following statement in response to questions: "Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."

In a letter to Moreno, the company said its nonprofit funding arm would reconsider future donations: "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."

A press spokesperson from Focus on the Family said the organization is not commenting on the funding claims because they don't know whether they are true. The National Organization for Marriage could not be reached for comment.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Moreno said that Chick-fil-A would be allowed in the Windy City after agreeing to "include a statement of respect for all sexual orientations in an internal document and promised that its not-for-profit arm would not contribute money to groups that oppose gay marriage."

TCRA applauded Chick-fil-A's alleged change of heart.

"With some of the groups that they were donating to being classified as hate groups, and others actively trying to halt the movement toward full civil rights for LGBT people, Chick-fil-A has taken a big step forward," said Anthony Martinez, the group's executive director.

In July, Cathy told a reporter for Baptist Press News that he supported the biblical definition of the family while respecting anyone who disagrees. His comments ignited a firestorm of protest from supporters of gay marriage, who accused the company of inciting hate toward the gay community. But in a counter protest on Aug. 1 organized by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Chick-fil-A backers filled restaurants around the country to show their support for the company.