Earlier this week, Chick-fil-A announced that it would cease donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations. And, just days later, the company has backpedaled.
LGBTQ groups were rightly skeptical after the fast-food chain announced it would no longer give millions of dollars to organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian athletes, instead saying it would focus its donations on “education, homelessness and hunger.”
But, after widespread outrage from conservatives who called the end of the donations “tragic” and a betrayal of loyal (presumably anti-LGBTQ) customers, Chick-fil-A has clarified that it still might donate to anti-LGBTQ groups in future.
“Our goal is to donate to the most effective organizations in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger,” Chick-fil-A President and COO Tim Tassopoulos said in a statement. “No organization will be excluded from future consideration – faith based or non-faith based.”
Chick-fil-A has been locked in a struggle with LGBTQ activists and allies over its LGBTQ issues and CEO Dan Cathy’s previous statements opposing gay marriage.
Protests from LGBTQ activists forced the first Chick-fil-A in the United Kingdom to close, while a number of places in the United States have either rejected new Chick-fil-As from being built, or refused offers of free food from the restaurant due to its perceived anti-LGBTQ animus.
The company had earlier this year refused to stop donating money to anti-LGBTQ groups, arguing that funding them is part of a “higher calling.”
In March, Chick-fil-A was found to have donated $2 million to anti-LGBTQ organizations in 2017, including $150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has long been at odds with LGBTQ rights, including saying they don’t discriminate against hiring LGBTQ people while also fighting against laws that would prevent them from discriminating against LGBTQ people.
Chick-fil-A also donated $1.6 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that requires its members to adhere to a “sexual purity” policy that outlaws “homosexual acts.”
GLAAD greeted Chick-fil-A’s initial announcement with “cautious optimism,” but reminded that the company’s prior statements on ceasing anti-LGBTQ donations were “proven to be empty” — in 2011, Cathy said that Chick-fil-A would stop funding anti-gay hate groups, but later analysis found that those donations continued.
With the announcement that anti-LGBTQ donations could resume in future, it seems that “cautious optimism” was the correct response.