After protests, Chick-fil-A decides to avoid politics in future

Over the summer, Chick-fil-A entered the debate on same-sex marriage after CEO Dan Cathy stated his company was “guilty as charged,” in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit…. We are a family owned business, a family led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” Cathy stated.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Allies community was outraged. On Sept. 20, Chick-fil-A released that the company will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”

Much of the outrage surrounding Cathy’s statement stemmed from investigations into Chick-Fil-A’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation. Between 2003 and 2009, the foundation donated about $3 million to groups that oppose homosexuality (not strictly same-sex marriage). In 2010 alone, the foundation donated about $2 million.

Before the company issued its statement supporting dignity for all individuals, marriage-equality activists and the LGBTQIA community voiced their opinions in a variety of ways. They refused to eat at the restaurant, protested outside its doors and lobbied for some kind of recourse.

Supporters of Chick-fil-A’s position took action as well; the National Organization for Marriage, a group that opposes marriage-equality, planned “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” to show support for the company’s statement about marriage.

The controversy has sparked a debate about the issue of free speech. However, the company’s donations and statements are protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Members of the UTSA community are also joining the debate. “I do feel as though the boycotting of Chick-Fil-A accomplished its purpose,” junior political science major Crystal Poenisch expressed. “The fact that Chick-Fil-A responded to the boycotts shows how much power we have as consumers.”

The WinShape Foundation released a statement on Sept. 20 regarding the controversy. “We are now taking a much closer look at the organizations we consider helping, and in that process, we will remain true to our stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.”