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September 20, 2012

Post-Crisis Evaluation: After Igniting a Gay-Rights Firestorm with CEO's Comments Last Month, Chick-fil-A Fine-Tunes Its PR — Fast Food Chain Is Re-Evaluating Its Funding for Anti-Gay Marriage Groups

A month after company CEO Dan Cathy's pro-traditional marriage comments created a firestorm in the fast-food world between LGBT supporters and gay-marriage opponents, Chick-fil-A is re-evaluating the multimillion-dollar donations the company gives to anti-gay marriage activists and other groups with "political agendas," ABC News reports.

After weeks of negotiations with Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, the fast-food restaurant agreed to take "a much closer look" at which groups receive donations from the WinShape Foundation, a non-profit created by the Cathy family and funded almost entirely by Chick-fil-A, the company told Moreno, ABC News reports.

"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," Chick-fil-A's senior director of real estate said in a letter to Moreno, reports ABC's Amy Bingham.

Between 2008 and 2010, the WinShape Foundation gave $3.2 million to groups that advocate against same-sex marriage, according to the group's tax reports. That included $2,000 to the Family Research Council, which was designated as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010, and $2,500 to the Alliance Defense Fund, which supported California's Proposition 8 to outlaw gay marriage, the article reports.

News of these donations, which was sparked by Cathy's saying he supports "the biblical definition of the family unit," sparked national outcry from gay-marriage activists and an overwhelmingly supportive response from traditional-marriage conservatives, who turned out in droves to dine at Chick-fil-A restaurants Aug. 1.

Moreno, who represents the Northwest Side of Chicago, vowed to block construction of a new Chick-fil-A restaurant in his ward after Cathy's remarks. But in a statement today, Moreno commended the company for making "real progress" toward addressing "the very legitimate concerns of the LGBT community regarding Chick-fil-A." Along with re-evaluating funding to anti-gay marriage activist groups, Moreno said Chick-fil-A has agreed to amend its corporate policy to include sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policy, according to the article.

"The company today has put into writing, for the first time, that its employees are to 'treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender... our intent is not to engage in political or social debates,'" Moreno said in a statement. Because of such changes to company policy, Moreno said he will recommend to the Chicago City Council that Chick-fil-A construction plans be approved for its new location in Chicago, ABC reports.


Moreno Gets a Headline, No Changes at Chick-fil-A

Moreno gets his headline. He made a difference. Chick-fil-A adds a couple of words to a policy it already practiced. The company didn't need to change its behavior because it's been famous for treating its people and its customers very well. Big whoop. As for charitable donations, much ado about nothing. Those "hate groups" are labeled by a group that's hardly neutral. Fine, let's re-evaluate. Cool.

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