In a time filled with hope and progress for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, it is disheartening to see Chick-fil-A opening its doors in Santa Barbara. Here’s why:
As part of its corporate policy, all Chick-fil-A franchises are required to pay half of their net profits back to Chick-fil-A, Inc., in part, to support its WinShape Foundation. This Foundation has donated nearly $5 million to aggressively anti-gay organizations such as Family Research Council, Eagle Forum, and Exodus International – groups that support, among other things, gay “reparative therapy” for youth and Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill.
This is not a “live and let live” issue by any stretch of the imagination, which is the way some defenders of the restaurant chain have tried to position it. Real people are being harmed. This has nothing to do with free speech, or personal beliefs and values. People making that argument are missing the point; Santa Barbara dollars are now directly helping to finance anti-gay organizations.
While local franchise owner Carol Ruiz seems to believe corporate giving to hate groups has slowed or stopped, Chick-fil-A’s President/CEO Dan Cathy counters that assertion in this recent statement: “There continues to be erroneous implications in the media that Chick-fil-A changed our practices and prioritie … Chick-fil-A made no such concessions, and we remain true to who we are and who we have been.”
Yes, people have the right to eat where they want. Santa Barbara consumers also have a right to know what their dollars are supporting and make informed decisions. I have faith in my city, that when all the information is out there, many will choose to eat elsewhere.
The LGBT fight is not just for equal protection under the law, but also for our dignity and recognition as a valid and valued segment of society. However, this is not a fight we can win on our own. We need the support of our friends, family members, neighbors, community, and city. We are certainly not trying to tell anyone what to do, as some have suggested. We are simply asking people to learn the facts and to consider the consequences of spending money at Chick-fil-A.
While “standing in line” with us may not lead to a chicken sandwich, we can promise our gratitude and nothing less than a better world for future generations.
David Selberg is the executive director of the Pacific Pride Foundation.