Chick-fil-A Sponsors Anti-Gay Golf Event

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday July 26, 2011

Months after sparking a national wave of protest in the GLBT community, fast food chain Chick-fil-A has underwritten a gold event that benefits an anti-gay group, On Top Magazine reported on July 25.

Last February, the eatery chain sponsored a seminar on heterosexual marriage titled "The Art of Marriage" organized by anti-gay group the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which opposes legal equality for same-sex couples in that state.

"Chick-fil-A is one of the only large American companies (Domino Pizza under Tom Monaghan was another) with conservative Christianity an integral part of its corporate culture," noted a Jan. 31 EDGE article.

After the company's sponsorship of the marriage seminar, the EDGE article noted, "it has come to light about Chick-fil-A has been using corporate coffers to support other ultra-religious right and anti-gay marriage groups. Gay blog Good As You did some sleuthing and found the company was the mainstay behind the WinShape Foundation, which is solely funded by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy's family.

"The foundation supports college students who espouse a fundamentalist Christian lifestyle (forget Jews or Muslims; Episcopalians need not apply)," the article added.

Good As You also reported that the WinShape Foundation is Chick-fil-A's charity, and that it had aligned itself with the Ruth Institute, which is affiliated with anti-gay group the National Organization for Marriage, a chief player in both the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California in 2008 and, a year later, another successful anti-gay effort in Maine to repeal a state law extending marriage equality at the ballot box before that law could take effect.

The Ruth Institute, Good As You reported last Jan. 6, "is all about opposing gay marriage, with a particular focus on young people. You might know Ruth's visible head, Jennifer Roback Morse, who we've featured on here a number of times. She's also the one who caught national headlines recently when she talked about wearing a rainbow scarf (that wasn't really rainbow) to the Prop 8 trial as a way of reclaiming the rainbow from the gay rights movement."

In response to criticism stemming from the marriage seminar last January, Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, issued a statement in which he declared, "My family and I believe in the Biblical definition of marriage" and then added, "We will not champion any political agendas on marriage and family."

But the company is now sponsoring a golf event, the Citizens for Community Values' 24th annual Golf Classic, which is scheduled to take place on Sept. 6 in Cincinnati.

Citizens for Community Values, reported Back2Stonewall in a July 25 article on the gold event, "proudly proclaims that it is 'officially associated' with the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the American Family Association is one of the many umbrella hate groups of FRC, FOTF, and AFA that fly under the national radar and operate mostly in the Midwest in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, but also has a few chapters throughout the country as far reaching as Connecticut and California."

"We believe that homosexual behavior is unhealthy and destructive to the individual, to families, and thus to communities and to society as a whole," text at the CCV website says, On Top Magazine noted. The site's text also issues a call for others to "join us in resisting, on every front, the organized effort to normalize homosexual behavior in our society."

On Top Magazine reported that "the CCV lists Chick-fil-A as the $2,000 lunch sponsor for its Golf Classic. A representative also told On Top Magazine that the company had donated food for the event's luncheon. (It wasn't clear whether the chicken restaurant chain had donated food in place of money.)"

In the wake of the Chick-fil-A flap, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin criticized the media and "liberals" for the acrimony restaurant chain endured. "Here's a modest proposal for liberals who say they support job creation: Stop smearing successful, law-abiding private companies whose values don't comport with yours," Malkin wrote in a Feb. 4 column.

But at the same time, conservative blogger Pete LaBarbera, the main (perhaps the sole) force behind virulently anti-gay (and, some contend, wildly misnamed) website Americans for Truth About Homosexuality called for good Christian families to boycott Chili's restaurants for the shocking offense of supporting a GLBT equality advocacy group, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.