The nation's largest privately held fast-food chicken restaurant is not responding to claims by a Chicago-based gay rights organization that it has changed its policy of donating to organizations that support traditional marriage.
A group known as the The Civil Rights Agenda released a statement based on comments from a letter Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno apparently received from Chick-fil-A's director of real estate, saying it would no longer donate to "anti-gay" organizations.
On their website, TCRA says their mission "is to maintain and increase individual rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer citizens in Illinois."
Although national media outlets are reporting that Chick-fil-A will no longer be donating to certain pro-family groups such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage, a copy of the letter to Moreno has not been publicly produced. Now some pro-gay media columnists are even questioning its existence.
"Alderman Moreno and the Civil Rights Agenda chose to claim a 'win' by issuing a press release on Wednesday announcing that Chick-fil-A had stopped funding anti-gay groups and that the company had added 'sexual orientation' to the its anti-discrimination clause," wrote Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, in a blog post in The Huffington Post on Thursday. "This claim was based on an internal Chick-fil-A memo and supposed conversations between Chick-fil-A and the alderman."
"But let me be clear: Chick-fil-A has not made any public statements or changes in policy. It may be weeks, months, or even years before the claims by Alderman Moreno are found to be true -- or false."
Windmeyer did say that Campus Pride had met twice with Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy and other executives and as a result, had suspended its 5 Simple Facts About Chick-fil-A campaign.
TCRA did release an excerpt from the so-called Chick-fil-A letter they say reads as follows:
"The WinShape Foundations 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."
TCRA also made this statement in Tuesday's release. "We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue," said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. "I think the most substantive part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased donating to organizations that promote discrimination, specifically against LGBT civil rights. It has taken months of discussion, both with our organization and with the Alderman, for Chick-fil-A to come forward with these concessions and we feel this is a strong step forward for Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community, although it is only a step."
Chick-fil-A has long had to weather controversy over their willingness to support Christian and pro-family organizations.
Earlier this summer, Cathy told The Biblical Recorder that the company was supportive of the biblical definition of the family unit." He also said in a separate interview that America is "inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage." His comments outraged the homosexual community, including some celebrities who called on yet another boycott.
However, Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee organized a "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" on Aug. 1 that brought tens of thousands of supporters. While sales revenues are not released to the public, restaurant officials said it was a record day for sales.
"It's gone beyond anything I could have imagined," Huckabee said. "Every one of [the stores] that I know have reported record, historic sales yesterday. ... A lot of the stores ran out of chicken before the end of the day."
A similar event organized by the pro-gay community several weeks later at Starbucks coffee shops nationwide called "Marriage Appreciation Day" turned out to be a bust. Speaking of the Seattle, Wash.-based coffee retailers support of same-sex marriage, Huckabee said, "I still drink Starbucks, I use my iPhone and iPad and I orders things off of Amazon. I'm not buying their politics, I'm buying their products."
Nonetheless, several mayors and aldermen of larger cities joined the protest against Chick-fil-A, saying they were going to prohibit further expansion unless the chain altered their pro-family policies. Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno was one of them.
Moreno is attempting to take credit for forcing the restaurant chain to change that policy, saying he will now "allow" the restaurant to build in the district he represents.
However, Windmeyer expressed his concern over Moreno's claims and raises the point that this may simply be a way for the alderman to gain publicity but if the claims prove to be false, it could further politicize an already volatile issue.
"Frankly, this should not be a political game, Alderman Moreno. The emotions are too high on both sides of this issue," writes Windmeyer. "Campus Pride is taking it day by day with Chick-fil-A, and we are hopeful that 'common ground' will lead to future action. But, until then, your claims are not helpful to anyone and only further politicize the issue."
The Christian Post attempted to contact Chick-fil-A, TCRA, Focus on the Family and Moreno for this post but was unsuccessful in reaching anyone prior to publication.