The latest surge of news about Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay positions provides a unique case study about how easily stories can be spun based on what information is shared and how that information is presented. Unfortunately, the mainstream press is missing much of the story, in part because conservatives are only telling the part of it they can most easily defend while trying to rewrite the truth about the rest. Even the Boston Globe — oblivious to its own past reporting — believes the new Chick-fil-A controversy is a open-and-shut matter of respecting the First Amendment. Here are the basic facts about Chick-fil-A in regards to LGBT issues:
- Chick-fil-A has given at least $5 million to anti-gay organizations, including known hate groups and proponents of ex-gay therapy, since 2003, including almost $2 million in both 2009 and 2010.
- Chick-fil-A has a 0 rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which signifies that the company does not offer one protection, one benefit, or even one diversity training for its LGBT employees.
- Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy openly admitted that he would probably fire any employee who “has been sinful or done something harmful to their family members.”
- It has recently come to light (thanks to Jeremy Hooper) that current Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy has used the following language to describe supporters of same-sex marriage:
- “We are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”
- “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”
- “We see all the twisted up kind of stuff that’s going on. Washington trying to redefine the definition of marriage and all the other kinds of things.”
- “We are suffering the consequences of a society and culture who has not acknowledged God or not thanked God—he’s left us to a deprived mind. It’s tragic and we live in a culture of that today.”
That is outright condemnation. That is open discrimination. Now, Chick-fil-A said last week that it will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” which sounds nice, but as the HRC score indicates, there is nothing to substantiate such a claim. There is no policy on the company’s books that actually protects LGBT people from discrimination, and funding hate groups cannot be justified as “honor, dignity, and respect.”
With all of the facts at hand, there is no accurate way to portray Chick-fil-A as any kind of “victim.” There is also no accurate way to reduce Chick-fil-A’s words and actions to merely defending “biblical principles.” This is — in every way, shape, and form — a company proactively engaging against the interests of LGBT people, and that is the quite justified reason for outcry. Note that Dan Cathy’s comment to the Baptist Press that the company is “guilty as charged” for defending “traditional marriage” — as poignant an admission as it was —is relatively benign compared to other reasons listed above, which is probably why it’s the only comment conservatives have even acknowledged.
Opposing marriage equality is an offensive anti-gay position, it’s true. But Chick-fil-A open and willfully condemns, discriminates, and campaigns against LGBT people, and every piece of chicken sold funds that ongoing effort. Any story or talking head that omits those details is missing the entire point of the controversy.