Chick-fil-A thrown back into gay marriage debate

An Ohio church used the restaurant's gift cards to promote a 'biblical marriage' event, though the fried chicken chain didn't sanction it.

By Jason Notte May 22, 2013 6:59AM
A Chick-fil-A restaurant in Chicago, Ill., on January 12, 2013 (© Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)Even when Chick-fil-A does absolutely nothing, it somehow finds itself in the middle of the same-sex marriage debate.

Last week an ad in a Dayton, Ohio, newspaper offered $25 Chick-fil-A gift cards to every married heterosexual couple who attended an event honoring "biblical marriage."

The event, hosted by the Cornerstone Baptist Temple, wasn't sponsored by Chick-fil-A or any of its independent restaurants, according to a statement from the fast-food chain emailed to The Huffington Post. The company says that the gift cards were purchased by a local restaurant and donated to the church.

The ad found its way to Reddit, where users dedicated hundreds of comments to the discussion. Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy has made it plain that he is against gay marriage, supports the "biblical definition of the family unit" and welcomes any customers who may come his way as a result of that stance.

His remarks drew rebukes last year from Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who opposed the restaurant's efforts to open a location in his city, but they garnered enough praise from Republicans to make the restaurant one of their top 10 brands of 2012, according to the YouGov Index.

Cathy's viewpoint also drew a lot more corporate money and lobbying clout into the same-sex marriage debate. Big businesses like Starbucks (SBUX) have became increasingly outspoken on the issue, while the Human Rights Campaign launched its Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal in January, recruiting companies including Aetna (AET), Biogen Idec (BIIB), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Diageo (DEO), eBay (EBAY), Electronic Arts (ERTS), Sun Life Financial (SLF) and Marriott (MAR) to the cause.

Back in September, Intel (INTC) told ThinkProgress that it would no longer donate to Boy Scouts of America troops that discriminated against gay scouts. That's no small deal, considering the $700,000 that Intel gave scout troops in 2010, which made the tech giant one of the Boy Scouts' biggest donors.

In November, UPS (UPS) followed Intel's lead and responded to a petition by withdrawing its support from the Boy Scouts because the organization is in violation of anti-discrimination policies at UPS' charitable wing. UPS gave the scouts $150,000 in 2010 -- a fraction of Intel's contribution but one that will still be missed when it's reduced to zero.

Not surprisingly, The New York Times reported in January that the Boy Scouts were seriously rethinking the ban on openly gay scouts and scout leaders. But that didn't stop Chipotle (CMG) from pulling funding for a scouting event in Utah earlier this year.

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May 22, 2013 12:02PM
Interesting how when gays are offended the media picks up on the story and berate those deemed to be 'insensitive'.  Gays jump up and down demanding equality and pushing their believe system onto everyone else....regardless if they are offended.  The liberal media assists in this blame-game.  If Chick-Fil-A or any other business wishes to express their opinions they are entitled to do so without being mocked or disgraced as those in the gay community are entitled.  As for me I will continue to enjoy Chick-Fil-A because 1) I like their product and 2) I appreciate the owners position.
May 22, 2013 10:21AM
Hey, if gays don't want to eat at Chick-fil-A, they don't have to.   That's why it's a free Country.
May 22, 2013 10:22AM
It's bad that we've gotten to a point in our society where disagreeing with the behavior of others is the worst possible offense you could commit.  You could drink a case of beer, get in your car and kill someone and you'd be a bad person.  But if you speak up and disagree with the behavior of someone else, especially based on religious principles, you are labeled as the most evil, vile, hate-filled person who deserves nothing but the most painful public death imaginable.
May 22, 2013 1:02PM
The comments by Mr. Cathy have definitely not hurt his business. Chick-fil-A has had 45 consecutive years of annual sales growth since their inception in 1967. In 2011, they had $4.1 billion in annual sales, and in 2012 had $4.6 billion in annual sales. That's an increase of $500 million in just one year! And, this is in spite of all the hoopla last year. Another thing, as of February, 2012, CFA became debt-free and now run their business entirely from internal cash. Say what you will, but it looks to me like they are a very successful company.
May 22, 2013 1:13PM

Thank You MSN for getting out this free advertising for Chick-fil-A.

Exposure like this is worth a fortune to them.

I like their food and wish them well.

Keep up the good work.

May 22, 2013 2:06PM
Boy Scouts, don't sell your soul for corporate donations......
May 22, 2013 11:37AM
Their food is good.  If you don't like their politics, tough sh!t.  Eat there, don't eat there, no one cares but you.  
May 22, 2013 2:06PM
I will continue to buy from Chick-fil-A because I believe that Mr Cathy has a right to his beliefs. Gays need to understand that they cannot simply shove their life style on everyone, anyone who disagrees with them is not wrong. It is that a belief and Mr Cathy is entitlled to his just as gays are entitled to theirs. So gays protest all you want and I will continue to spend my money with Chick-fil-A until Mr Cathy says something that I disagree with.
May 22, 2013 2:03PM
funny how you get cheered for coming out of the closet, but if you love God, there is something wrong with you.  I don't care what anybody says about gays, it's WRONG!!  The parts don't match. 
May 22, 2013 12:50PM
Actually, from a business standpoint, Dan Cathy is very intelligent. And when his company continues to be in the limelight for such issues, people turn out to support them in record numbers and make record profits. Mmmmmmm, I thik I will go out of a Combo #1 today, hold the pickle (no pun intended).
May 22, 2013 9:20AM
May 22, 2013 1:59PM
It is so sad that MSN has now resorted to MANUFACTURING stories designed to defame conservative companies.  They would make much better use of their time investigating the criminals in our gov't who have probably already seized their phone records and e-mails.  Yes, that is right MSN, Eric Holder has already confirmed that other news organizations had their rights wasn't just Fox News.
May 22, 2013 10:49AM
Love thy neighbor here on Earth; let God decide the consequences of their actions for Eternity.
May 22, 2013 2:12PM
Chick-fil-a is kicking the tail of the same sex marriage advocates by continuing to sell tons of chicken sandwiches, and I was in line for Hetero day and there is no doubt, plenty of people agree with their beliefs!
May 22, 2013 1:59PM
To all you folks.  THis is a private business, churches are a priviate business.  Why do you all think you have to shove your ideals on some else.  I bet some of you beleive in gun ownership while others don't.  You hate that beening shoved down your throat.  If this had been a Mulsim Religis group would you be so fast to bust on it?  The problem with this country is everyone wants to shove their opions and thought down everyones else throats.  Leave it be and worry about your own live and families.  As the good books says, take the log out of your eye before you remove the twig from some elses eye.
May 22, 2013 12:07PM
I Wish I could by stock in Chick-Fil-A.  What a great company with great product that has had exapnsive growth over the years.  But then again if it was publicly traded, it may totally go downhill just like other companies that want to serve the public a cheaper product and raise prices at the same time.
May 22, 2013 2:15PM
May 22, 2013 12:46PM

And this is actually a story?  Pitiful that somone actually thought this was newsworthy.  :(

May 22, 2013 12:30PM
Why is it that the same folks crying about Gays, say Tiger's Woods cheating on his Wife, is between he and his Wife. Far too many folks want to cherry pick what's good and bad based on their likes and dislikes. If Chick-fil-A had come out in support of Gays, then what. Those same folks telling how they love them, now hate them?
May 22, 2013 1:54PM
Homosexuals ARE not gay.They are pathetic.
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