California Chick-fil-A Franchisee Makes a Surprising Donation
Everyone remembers last summer, when the CEO of fast-food franchise Chick-fil-A Dan Cathy ignited a firestorm with his biblical condemnation of marriage equality. Politicians, including several big-city mayors, lined up to discuss how they planned any new franchises opening in their jurisdictions. LGBT activists called for a boycott.
There was a "kiss-in," but it was overshadowed by "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," which was the invention of Fox News host Mike Huckabee. Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day became a rallying cry for the embattled opponents of same-sex marriage. The crowds set records in terms of sales. People sometimes waited hours in the hot August sun to buy sandwiches and waffles fries. The surprising show of strength energized the right, and led many of them to believe that a new "Silent Majority" would emerge victorious in the November polls.
Flash forward: On Monday, Corey Braun, the franchisee of a Chick-fil-A in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., a suburb of San Bernardino, handed out dozens of free meal tickets to same-sex marriage supporters during a rally near his restaurant. Braun told the Inland Valley (Calif.) Daily Bulletin that individual franchise owners do not necessarily hold the same views as Cathy.
"There were a lot of things said over the past year," Braun said. "I wanted to show that Chick-fil-A doesn't discriminate against anybody. We serve everyone. We're happy to serve the community and this was an opportunity to have this group come in and show them our hospitality regardless of their beliefs, sexual orientation, or whatever."
According to Braun, the restaurant has "never been about hate" and that he believes Cathy's statements were taken out of context. He said the CEO was "asked about his opinion on marriage and he just supports a biblical view of marriage."
A board member of local LGBT group Equality Inland Empire told the newspaper that she was pleasantly surprised by Braun's appearance at the rally, especially when he made an announcement over the loudspeakers.
"The crowd was very accepting, of course," Eden Anderson said. "We got quiet and we were listening, and with some skepticism. But really, what I experienced with the community, is when people are open and apologetic and accepting, it's touching to us. It feels like acceptance and we just want to be accepted and engaged in society, so when it's confirmed, I think the overall reaction was, yes, certainly that Chick-fil-A in Rancho Cucamonga is welcoming to us. "
The fast food chain has generally stayed out of the news. As Think Progress reported, Cathy's spokesperson said the fast-food chain would distance itself from its political record and intended "to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."
But in recent days, it once again has come under fire when the size of the company's funding through its corporate foundation to anti-gay organizations was revealed. Newly release IRS records for 2011 detail the company's WinShapeFoundation's donation list.. According to tax records, the foundation gave the Marriage & Family Foundation over $1.1 million, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes $48,000 and the National Christian Foundation nearly $250,000, $1,000 to the "ex-gay" group Exodus International, and an undisclosed amount to the Family Research Council.
If the Chick-fil-A saga is over, no one told Sarah Palin. the New York Daily News and others reported the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate was seen wearing a red t-shirt with the company's logo to a baseball game on Saturday to the Phoenix Suns play Minnesota in Arizona. It's probably a surprise to no one that that Palin would be a but Chick-fil-A supporter, since the she was loud and proud about the fast food chain last summer. A photo of Palin and her husband holding a bag of the restaurant's food went viral after she posted it on Facebook.
"Well, that calling for the boycott has a chilling effect on our First Amendment rights," Palin said on Fox News last August. "And the owner of the Chick-fil-A business had merely voiced his personal opinion about supporting traditional definition of marriage, one boy, one girl, falling in love, getting married."
Meanwhile, local TV station KENS5 in San Antonio reported that workers at a franchise were surprised to arrive at work on Thursday morning were surprised to see the restaurant plastered with pro marriage equality messages like "Government can not dictate love," "Support love note hate," and "Your son is gay and everything will be okay."