Eye on the Media: More than just marriage, Chick-fil-A is anti-gay
For the past several weeks, the media has been focused on the firestorm over comments made by Chick-fil-A President and COO Dan Cathy. But many media reports have not asked some critical questions, and have presented incomplete or incorrect stories to audiences.
Every journalist following this story should note the following:
• GLAAD is not organizing any events at any Chick-Fil-A locations. All community events have been organized by individuals from those communities, usually through social media, and shared with friends and neighbors online.
• Chick-Fil-A has donated more than $5 million since 2003 to anti-gay groups, including those that have been designated 'hate groups' by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and those that push so-called "ex-gay therapy" which seeks to turn gay people straight.
• There are millions of Christians who disagree with Chick-Fil-A supporters' claim that being anti-gay is a "Christian Value."
• Despite the long lines on Mike Huckabee's Chick-Fil-A day, the brand has suffered heavy losses in its approval rating. Polling organization YouGov finds that Chick-fil-A’s approval rating has plummeted more than 25 points since this story began
The following FAQ should be used by journalists to get key background on the story before covering it.
Is this all about marriage?
No. Chick-fil-A's anti-LGBT stance goes well beyond simply opposing marriage equality. They have given millions of dollars to anti-LGBT organizations, including those that have been designated "hate groups" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and those that push so-called "ex-gay" therapy, which has been denounced by the mainstream medical and mental health community. They have supported organizations that are on record saying that being gay should be recriminalized in America. Chick-fil-A also bans gay couples from its "WinShape Retreats" aimed at growing leadership within the company.
Thanks to Equality Matters, anyone can see the full extent of Chick-Fil-A's funding of anti-gay organizations; here's 2010 (almost two million dollars) here's 2009 (almost two million dollars again) and here's 2003-2008. (more than one million dollars)
What did Chick-fil-A President and COO Dan Cathy say?
Dan Cathy said that our pro-LGBT culture suffers from a "deprived mind," that marriage equality is "twisted up," and that making marriage equality legal is "inviting God's judgement."
Do people participating in "Chick-fil-A day" on Wednesday know the extent of the company's anti-LGBT stance?
It's likely many do not. Many Americans who do not support full marriage equality would still disagree with the company's support of programs that try to "convert" gay people into straight people, or the idea that a community that values its LGBT members has a "deprived mind" and is "inviting God's wrath."
How should journalists report statements by Chick-fil-A supporters who say the company is merely espousing Christian values?
There are hundreds of thousands of faithful, devout Christian Americans who would disagree with the idea that being anti-gay is a Christian value. Statements of faith by supporters of Chick-fil-A should always be carefully attributed ("Dan Cathy says he is standing up for what he calls Christian values...") and it would be appropriate to seek out voices of faith who support the LGBT community to add context.
Doesn't Chick-fil-A have the right to have whatever beliefs it wants?
Yes, as do the millions of Americans who support equality and disagree with the company's anti-LGBT stances.
“As a private company, Chick-fil-A has every right to alienate as many customers as they want,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “But consumers and communities have every right to speak up when a company’s President accuses them of ‘inviting God’s wrath’ by treating their LGBT friends, neighbors and family members with respect.”
What effect has this controversy had on Chick-fil-A's approval?
New research from polling organization YouGov finds that Chick-fil-A’s approval rating has plummeted more than 25 points since this story began, just a few weeks ago. Corporate America has already discovered that being pro-LGBT is good for the bottom line. Chick-fil-A is now discovering that the other side of the coin holds true as well; being anti-LGBT is bad for the bottom line.
What other companies are involved in marriage equality?
In November 2011, more than 70 employers including Google, CBS, Gap, Aetna, Starbucks, Xerox, among others signed an amicus brief that said that the Defense of Marriage Act (which bans recognition of gay couples on a federal level) hurts business.
Companies including General Mills, Starbucks, Amazon.com, Microsoft and Nike have recently donated millions to marriage equality campaigns.
GLAAD has prepared a list of companies who have issued statements or provided financial support LGBT people and marriage equality. Available upon request.
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEWS:
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick
Chick-fil-A Kiss-in Organizer Carly McGehee. Carly started the event on Facebook which has not attracted thousands as well as national media attention. She plans to be in Dallas on the day of the kiss-in (Friday, August 3) with about 100 supporters.
Organizers of "Donate (the cost of) a Chicken Dinner for Marriage Equality Day" Brian Real and Justin Garrow
Additional events as well as photos of protests are available at http://glaad.org/chick-fil-a