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Gay 'Campus Pride' Leader Befriends Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy, Says Funding of Anti-LGBT Groups Ceased

Campus Pride executive director Shane Windmeyer writes about his months-long dialogue with Chick-fil-A President and COO Dan Cathy which led to an invitation to hang out with Cathy at the Chick-fil-A bowl, and the suspension of Campus Pride's boycott and protest of the chicken chain.

WindmeyerWindmeyer says Cathy called him out of the blue and began an extensive dialogue of trust-filled exchanges:

Chick-fil-A also provided access to internal documents related to the funding of anti-LGBT groups and asked questions about our concerns related to this funding. An internal document, titled "Who We Are," expressed Chick-fil-A's values, which included their commitment "to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect," including LGBT people. Dan and his family members had personally drafted, refined and approved the document.

Through all this, Dan and I shared respectful, enduring communication and built trust. His demeanor has always been one of kindness and openness. Even when I continued to directly question his public actions and the funding decisions, Dan embraced the opportunity to have dialogue and hear my perspective. He and I were committed to a better understanding of one another. Our mutual hope was to find common ground if possible, and to build respect no matter what. We learned about each other as people with opposing views, not as opposing people.

Windmeyer says Chick-fil-A has kept its promises to stop funding anti-LGBT groups and explains that's why they suspended their boycott back in September:

This past week Chick-fil-A shared with me the 2011 IRS Form 990, filed in November for the WinShape Foundation, along with 2012 financials. The IRS has not released the 990 to the public yet, but the financials affirm Chick-fil-A's values a year prior to the controversy this past July. The nearly $6 million in outside grant funding focuses on youth, education, marriage enrichment and local communities. The funding reflects Chick-fil-A's promised commitment not to engage in "political or social debates," and the most divisive, anti-LGBT groups are no longer listed.

Even as Campus Pride and so many in the community protested Chick-fil-A and its funding of groups like Family Research Council, Eagle Forum and Exodus International, the funding of these groups had already stopped. Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A could have noted this publicly earlier. Instead, they chose to be patient, to engage in private dialogue, to reach understanding,and to share proof with me when it was official. There was no "caving"; there were no "concessions." There was, in my view, conscience.

Read Windmeyer's full piece here.

What do you think? Should LGBT folks stop their protests against Chick-fil-A?

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  1. Corporate giving and private giving are two different things. I want to see if Cathy himself has stopped giving to hate groups. After all he earns his money from those same chicken sandwiches.

    Posted by: Craig | Jan 28, 2013 2:38:36 PM

  2. Uh-huh. So they quietly stop donating to hate groups, don't announce it except to someone representing "the gays." Why not a big press release? Oh yeah, because that would alienate their bigoted base of customers. Sorry, not believing in this change of heart.

    Posted by: PDX Guy | Jan 28, 2013 2:39:10 PM

  3. MikeinNYC, judging my CFA sales and growth, a huge number of people eat there, including people in Blue States. In DC, they even have a food truck that has incredibly long lines waiting everyday.

    Posted by: Jake | Jan 28, 2013 2:43:37 PM

  4. Once Chock-ful'a-hate donates an equal amount of money to pro-GLBT groups and issues a sincere public apology, then I will consider giving them my business.

    Posted by: Kevin Foster | Jan 28, 2013 2:43:52 PM

  5. The point of boycotting and calling out businesses that oppress us is largely to open dialogue that, one hopes, lead to change. We have heard about change at Chik-fil-a before, only to have the rumor de-firmed (denied in a confirmation), so I'll be looking for long-term change.

    Posted by: jimstoic | Jan 28, 2013 2:46:42 PM

  6. I don't recall Target enacting a similar withdrawal of funding (proven with soon-to-be-public tax filings) or reversal of policies, yet many LGBTs continue to shop there.

    Cathay put his money where his mouth is, and it was a classy way for him to reverse his funding policy without doing it as simply a reactive move to protests, making it clear that while he still has his biblical beliefs, he doesn't want his actions to inspire hatred or harmful acts against LGBT individuals. He may still not understand that the denial of hundreds of equal rights a civil marriage provides is harmful, but at least it seems clear that he doesn't want to equate being anti-marriage with promoting hatred.

    I think we have to realize, with some people, we're up against centuries of widely reinforced biblical teachings. We know those are as misguided as the Bible never condemning slavery, or saying you should be stoned to death for adultery, but it's a big leap for people who have been indoctrinated to certain beliefs in a manner similar to how cult members have been. Luckily there are other aspects of their religion that advocate for love and respect, and not all Christians are using their beliefs as a cover for some innate need to hate others. (Some certainly do, but far from all)

    Posted by: Jeff | Jan 28, 2013 2:48:07 PM

  7. If the revenues for Chik-Fil-A were up - No one would have heard a peep from Dan Cathy.

    Mr Cathy knows full well this has cost him - in the price he can command for franchises and sales overall. The tide has changed and polling proves over time - being in the gay hate business has costs that will only grow more expensive.

    Posted by: Jonathan | Jan 28, 2013 2:49:42 PM

  8. millions of americans supported chick-fil-a specifically because they SHARED its anti-gay beliefs.

    what, specifically, is this hack of a man going to actively do to counteract that promoting of hatred and bigotry?

    So far, it doesn't look like anything. And I'm stunned that some folks on here are so easily impressed.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 28, 2013 2:51:59 PM

  9. Hate that runs that deep doesn't disappear just like that. Chik-Fil-A is Fil-A-Crap!

    Posted by: Jack M | Jan 28, 2013 2:54:28 PM

  10. Kiwi said everything needed to be said.

    I'm not going to eat there regardless of what happens going forward. Why eat at a company whose president thinks you're a sinner and deviant? What happened on August 1st isn't going to be forgotten. You can't just privately stop donating company money to hate groups with no public disavowing of these groups and believe that's enough.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 28, 2013 2:59:06 PM

  11. Jake, CFA's brand rating has declined and remained stagnant at below average ratings. They were a top 5 restaurant in terms of brand rating before last summer. Dan Cathy wants to play both sides of the coin, here. He doesn't want to look bigoted because he wants to improve the view of his company, yet he also isn't willing to actually publicly disavow the homophobia connected to Chick-fil-A. Until that happens, boycott still on. And I do have a major problem with someone gay or someone who calls themselves a straight supporter, eating at Chick-fil-A, when you can simply find a chicken sandwich elsewhere or eat your own. There clearly is no excuse and I lack respect for people who put food over principles.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 28, 2013 3:03:22 PM

  12. "The funding reflects Chick-fil-A's promised commitment not to engage in "political or social debates," and the MOST divisive, anti-LGBT groups are no longer listed."

    Just those anti-LGBT groups that are the least, eh?

    Posted by: jtaskw | Jan 28, 2013 3:10:45 PM

  13. I will show "tolerance" to people who recognize my basic humanity. If they can't find the ambition to do that, then I have neither tolerance nor patience for them. Both Dan Cathy and Shane Windmeyer can kiss where the sun don't shine!

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Jan 28, 2013 3:11:34 PM

  14. To those of you attacking Mr. Windmeyer and asking that he step down as head of Campus Pride...

    No, reaching a "truce" isn't the same as reversing the damage caused by millions in anti-gay donations; but you know what, at least he played a part in opening a dialogue; and an actual dialogue at that, not just whining in the comments section of a blog. Mr. Cathy hasn't done a 180, and there's still work to be done, but it's progress in the right direction.

    And as someone who is familiar with Mr. Windmeyer's work, I know he has donated (and is still donating) thousands of hours working at Campus Pride to make life more tolerable for LGBT identified students across the nation; I'll venture so far as to say that he's probably done a heck of a lot more for our community than all of you nay-sayers put together.

    Ask yourself, what have you done recently for our community? If it's anything less than what Mr. Windmeyer has accomplished, you don't really have room to criticize him.

    Posted by: E | Jan 28, 2013 3:12:19 PM

  15. Good, so those of us who've actively made far more positive changes are allowed to criticize this. Good.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 28, 2013 3:21:42 PM

  16. I have no interest in what anyone's private feelings are so long as they are not working to harm me as Chik-Fil-A had been through funding anti-gay organizations. I think any progress we can make through respectful dialog is a good thing. And I think that continuing to boycott a company after our complaint has been remedied only plays into the hands of those who claim we are not out for equality but rather to marginalize and penalize all who don't agree with us.

    Posted by: Shelly | Jan 28, 2013 3:28:26 PM

  17. When will LGBT people stop settling cheap! And who is this guy (Windmeyer) pretending to represent the "community"? The struggle wasa always about Chik-a-Fil-A' ability to sell franchises out of its bastion of the Deep South. I still don't drink Coors beer, and will never go to Chik-a-Fil-A!

    Posted by: vince | Jan 28, 2013 3:42:48 PM

  18. I'll believe it when I see it. This isn't the first time that CFA "promised" to stop with the anti-gay BS.

    Even if it happens to actually be true, CFA only changed their minds because our boycotts hurt their bottom line, not out of the goodness of their shrivelled little hearts.

    All those close-minded Teabaggers had to have gotten sick of eating chicken sandwiches 3 times a day.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Jan 28, 2013 4:01:07 PM

  19. As Aziz Ansari, CFA's stance would not be a big deal if people did not love their food so much. Even pro-gay people can't walk about from their food. Their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries are so good......

    Posted by: Jake | Jan 28, 2013 4:53:51 PM

  20. I meant "as Aziz Ansari said"

    Posted by: Jake | Jan 28, 2013 4:54:10 PM

  21. i dunno. the taste of hate ruins things for me. but hey, i was raised to care about human rights more than fried food.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 28, 2013 4:56:57 PM

  22. As I recall Cathy claimed that they stopped donating to anti-gay groups months ago. But, what we found out right at that time was that Chick-Fil-A was still "sponsoring" events like bike rides and asking the event attendees to donate money directly to the anti-gay hate groups instead of funneling it through Chick-Fil-A.

    So, you can make the claim that they aren't funding the hate groups anymore. But, those same groups are still benefiting via event sponsorships

    Posted by: anonymous | Jan 28, 2013 5:03:20 PM

  23. When he wondered what he was doing standing on the sidelines alongside Mr. Cathy, the word he was looking for is "co-opted".

    Posted by: BobN | Jan 28, 2013 5:21:46 PM

  24. What a noob.

    "Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A could have noted this publicly earlier. Instead, they chose to be patient..."

    No. They chose to cash in on the raging bigotry of their customers, at our expense.

    Posted by: Randy | Jan 28, 2013 5:53:35 PM

  25. Either the money has been turned off, or sending it has gotten more expensive for the Cathys. So it's a win, if not a cause for celebration. The hate orgs need money to function. So long as Windmeyer can keep delivering wins out of this relationship, he should continue. And if he finds out he's been lied to, or they renege, he should tell us.

    Posted by: Rawn | Jan 28, 2013 6:28:35 PM

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