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Chick-fil-A steps out of public debate on gay marriage

July 19, 2012|By Shan Li
  • After its president came out against gay marriage, the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain is backing off from speaking on the issue.
After its president came out against gay marriage, the Chick-fil-A fast-food… (Mike Stewart / Associated…)

Chick-fil-A caused a stir after its president publicly voiced opposition to gay marriage this week. Now, the fast-food chain is hoping to back out of the debate altogether.

The quick-service chicken chain said Thursday in a statement that "going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."

For the company, leaving the policy debate means "not proactively being engaged in the dialogue" on gay marriage, spokesman Don Perry wrote in an email. Perry did not respond to questions on whether the company would stop donating to causes that oppose gay marriage.

The College Park, Ga., chain has won both censure and praise for recent statements made by its president Dan Cathy in opposition to gay marriage. In an interview with Baptist Press, Cathy said the company was "guilty as charged" in supporting 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,” said Cathy, the son of company founder S. Truett Cathy. 

Chick-fil-A, which has about 1,600 restaurants and over $4 billion in sales, has been accused before of supporting an anti-gay agenda with donations, a view that the company has vigorously denied.

But a report from the LGBT advocacy group Equality Matters said that between 2003 and 2009, the company has donated more than $3 million to Christian groups that oppose homosexuality. In 2010, Chick-fil-A donated almost $2 million to such causes, according to the report.

Chick-fil-A said in the statement that the elder Cathy founded the company with the intent to apply "biblically-based principles to managing his business."

"For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family," it said. 

"The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender," the company added.

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ByShanLi

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