Image courtesy Flickr user hectorir
Chick-Fil-A’s financial support to anti-gay causes has gone on for years with little commotion outside the LGBT activist community.
But that changed earlier this month when Dan Cathy, CEO of the fast food chain, told the Baptist Press that he is “guilty as charged” for pushing the company to take a stand in the national debate over marriage equality. Those comments set off a backlash—including boycotts, protests and politicians’ denouncing Chick-Fil-A. In Chicago and Boston, the mayors of each city fired off statements claiming the chicken sandwich joint is no longer welcome in town. The backlash, like any charged political debate, is now setting off its own backlash.
Liberal commentators Glenn Greenwald and Adam Serwer are leading the contrarian charge, claiming that mayors opposed to the construction of new Chick-Fil-A outlets are setting a “dangerous” precedent for violating the First Amendment:
• Mother Jones’s Adam Serwer (7/26/12): “Blocking construction of Chick-fil-a restaurants over Cathy’s views is a violation of Cathy’s First Amendment rights.”
• Salon’s Glenn Greenwald (7/26/12): “But that is not the case here; the actions are purely in retribution against the views of the business’ top executive on the desirability of same-sex marriage.”
• Boston Globe editorial (7/25/12): “But which part of the First Amendment does Menino not understand? A business owner’s political or religious beliefs should not be a test for the worthiness of his or her application for a business license.”
If the activist-led uprising against Chick-Fil-A were simply about the CEO’s views, I would agree with these comments. The debate, however, centers around how Chick-Fil-A and its business affiliates spend direct direct corporate cash on supporting anti-gay causes.
Here’s the real issue. Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s family manages a charity called the WinShape Foundation, which dispenses millions of dollars to anti-gay organizations, including Focus on the Family. Where does that money come from? According to tax disclosures, the WinShape Foundation received $8,067,161 from Chick-Fil-A corporation and $11.5 million from CFA Properties, a corporate affiliate of Chick-Fil-A registered in Delaware in 2010. Here’s a screenshot: