California protesters marched in front of the newly-opened Hollywood branch of the chicken fast food chain Chick-fil-A on Saturday to protest against the company’s supposed anti-gay policies.
Demonstrators waved signs that read, "Pray away Chick-fil-A" and "Boycott Anti-Gay Chick-fil-A." Protest organizer Ken Howard told West Hollywood Patch that the protest is "not anti-Christian. It's pro-civil rights and against hate groups."
Company spokeswoman Kim Hardcastle responded to the protest by saying, "We want to make it clear that Chick-fil-A is not anti-anybody and that we seek to treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect."
The demonstration took place two days after the Hollywood Chick-fil-A store opened its doors, and is the latest confrontation the fast food chain has had with the LGBT community.
Gay rights activists have accused the company of supporting traditional marriage and have called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A restaurants. Earlier this year, gay activists attacked Chick-fil-A after a local branch gave food to a Pennsylvania Family Institute event. They accused Chick-fil-A of involving itself in Pennsylvania’s gay marriage debate when the company said it was only trying to “be good neighbors” to the marriage retreat.
The LGBT community is also upset with the Atlanta-based company for donations it makes through its WinShape Foundation. The foundation gives money to housing projects, incoming freshman attending Georgia's Berry College and youth summer programs.
The WinShape Foundation also operates the WinShape Retreat for marriage training. The training, dubbed WinShape Marriage, offers crisis interventions for couples, preparation programs for engaged couples and strengthening programs for growing relationships.
The foundation was formed by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy and his wife, Jeannette. The Cathys are Southern Baptists, and the foundation's retreats and marriage training programs reflect their belief.
Equality Matters, a campaign for "full LGBT equality,” maintains that Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation has given over $1.1 million to "anti-gay groups," including Campus Crusade for Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Christian Foundation, Christian Camp And Conference Association and Serving Marriages, Inc.
These organizations are all faith-based groups whose mission statements make no direct mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
Equality Matters also asserts that the WinShape Foundation has also given money to Christian Legal defense group Alliance Defense Fund, Georgia Family Council and Family Research Council, groups which advocate conservative family policies. It claims WinShape gave these groups $8,000 from 2003 to 2008.
In January, Chick-fil-A President Dan T. Cathy released a statement responding to the Pennsylvania controversy, pledging not to "champion any political agendas on marriage or family."
He did, however, state his continued belief in the "biblical definition of marriage" and said the company would continue to give resources to programs that strengthen marriages and families.
According to the website, the WinShape Retreat gladly welcomes marital pastors to its French-inspired Normandy retreat complex. Marriage programs offer help securing a lasting, successful "Christian marriage."