LGBTQ groups and activists are offering only faint praise for Chick-fil-A’s decision to halt funding for two faith-based groups, saying the company has to do much more to win their support.
“Chick-fil-A Still Isn't LGBTQ-Friendly, Despite Pledge on Donations,” read a headline on the website of The Advocate, a major gay news outlet.
The Chick-fil-A Foundation on Monday announced a new donation strategy it says will “provide additional clarity and impact with the causes it supports.” Beginning in 2020, the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support Junior Achievement, Covenant House International and local food banks.
Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow.com that the Foundation would stop funding the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army. Chick-fil-A’s ties to the two organizations were at the heart of controversies in Buffalo and San Antonio, two cities that rejected Chick-fil-A’s efforts to open airport locations there. The ties also were mentioned when LGBT activists successfully forced a Chick-fil-A to close in the United Kingdom. (Its lease was not renewed.)
Bisnow.com said Chick-fil-A was moving away from multi-year commitments and opting instead to fund organizations on an annual basis.
“There’s no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are,” Tassopoulos said. “There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message.”
He added, “When there is a tension, we want to make sure we’re being clear. We think this is going to be helpful. It’s just the right thing to do: to be clear, caring and supportive, and do it in the community.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ organization, said the change in donations strategy is only a small part of what Chick-fil-A needs to do.
“At HRC, we always encourage companies to ensure that their giving is in line with LGBTQ-inclusive values,” Beck Bailey, director of workplace equality at the HRC Foundation, told The Advocate. “And while this is an important step for Chick-fil-A, the company still does not have workplace protections and policies that are fully inclusive of LGBTQ people. We look forward to the day when Chick-fil-A’s commitment to welcoming all is reflected in their workplace policies and practices by including explicit sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination protections.”
The Advocate noted Chick-fil-A does not explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination policy.
The gay rights group GLAAD also urged Chick-fil-A to do more.
“In addition to refraining from financially supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations, Chick-fil-A still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents,” Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, told CNN.
Meanwhile, writer and author Richard Morgan, in a CNN column, accused Chick-fil-A of bigotry and homophobia, despite the changes..
“[Chick-fil-A] didn't mention any shift in its views on homosexuality,” Morgan wrote. “... [The new policy] would perhaps be more convincing if Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A's CEO, acknowledged as wrong, and directly apologized for the comments that he made in 2012 about the company's belief and support of the ‘the biblical definition of the family unit.’”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Kirsty Lee/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.