Southern-Fried Hate

Chick-fil-A restaurant chain approaches $2 million in annual anti-gay giving

BY PAUL SCHINDLER | The charitable arm of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain donated roughly $1.75 million to anti-gay causes in 2009, according to a November 1 report from Equality Matters, the LGBT rights affiliate of Media Matters.

Earlier this year, Equality Matters reported that WinShape, the philanthropic adjunct to Chick-fil-A, which first served Southern markets and now operates nearly 1,600 fast-food locations in 39 states, had given more than $1 million to such right-wing groups between 2003 and 2008.

The report on the 2009 giving shows that WinShape’s largest anti-gay donation totaled almost $995,000 for the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund (MFLF), which Donald “Bubba” Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s senior vice president, helped found. MFLF is part of the Marriage CoMission, established to fight the “downward spiral of marriage and the traditional family in America.” The group is supported by a number of prominent anti-gay activists.

WinShape also gave major donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or FCA, ($480,000) and the National Christian Foundation, or NCF, ($240,000). Applications for ministry leaders at FCA require that those seeking the position attest that they see homosexuality as an “impure lifestyle.”

NCF, Equality Matters reports, has made “hundreds of grants” to anti-gay groups, including Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, two organizations founded by James Dobson that are each designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

WinShape separately gave $12,500 to Focus on the Family and $1,000 to the Family Research Council. It also made a $5,000 donation to the Eagle Forum, a group founded by Phyllis Schlafly that originally fought the right to choose and other women’s rights initiatives and now also battles gay rights gains, including the 2003 Supreme Court decision striking down the nation’s remaining sodomy laws. WinShape gave $1,000 to Exodus International, a group that claims to “cure” people of their homosexuality.

According to Equality Matters, Chick-fil-A funded WinShape –– created in 1984 by the company’s founder, S. Truett Cathy –– at a level of about $7.8 million in 2009.

Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s president, said in response to Equality Matters’ findings that the donations reflect support for traditional marriage and “no agenda against anyone.”

Chick-fil-A has a Manhattan restaurant on University Place in Greenwich Village. There are plenty of other chicken joints in town.