By DEE-ANN DURBIN AP Business Writer
Chick-fil-A is ending donations to three groups that oppose gay marriage in an effort to halt protests and broaden its customer base.
But the move has angered some of the fast food chain’s fans.
The Atlanta-based company said Monday that starting next year, it will focus its giving on three areas: hunger, homelessness and education.
“This decision was made to create more clarity — and to better address three critical needs facing children across the communities Chick-fil-A serves,” the company said in a statement.
Chick-fil-A President Tim Tassopoulos said the company — which is closed on Sundays — will still consider donations to faith-based groups. The company wouldn’t say whether it will consider an organization’s position on gay rights before donating.
But in the meantime, it doesn’t plan to continue its support of three groups that oppose gay marriage and have been the target of protestor’s ire.
In 2017 and 2018, the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave $2.4 million to the Missouri-based Fellowship of Christian Athletes for sports camps for underserved youth and $165,000 to the Salvation Army to buy Christmas gifts for needy children. The foundation also gave $6,000 to the Paul Anderson Youth Homes.
Chick-fil-A’s decision to no longer support the groups angered some conservatives, who say they stood by the restaurant in 2012 when CEO Dan Cathy said in several interviews that he didn’t support gay marriage. In more recent interviews, Cathy — who is the son of Chick-fil-A’s founder — has reiterated his personal beliefs but says he treats all customers with respect.
The Salvation Army issued a statement saying it was “saddened” by Chick-fil-A’s decision. It said the move was based on misinformation that, when perpetuated, puts at risk its ability “to serve those in need, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or any other factor.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in a tweet Monday that he coordinated a national appreciation day for the company in 2012. Now, Chick-fil-A is betraying supporters, he said.
“They surrendered to anti-Christian hate groups. Tragic,” Huckabee tweeted.
Chick-fil-A, which operates around 2,400 restaurants, has been also feeling heat from opponents. Earlier this year, airports in Buffalo, New York, and San Antonio blocked the restaurant from opening at their sites because of the company’s gay rights record. Some college campuses have banned the chain. A location in the United Kingdom is closing because of protests.
GLAAD, an LGBTQ rights group, said it greeted Monday’s news with “cautious optimism,” but said Chick-fil-A has made similar pledges before.
Drew Anderson, GLAAD’s director of campaigns and rapid response, said if Chick-fil-A wants to be taken seriously, it should speak out against its anti-gay reputation and ensure restaurants are safe for gay employees.