Skip to main content

Pride group: Chick-fil-A doesn't fund most divisive groups

By Chris Boyette, CNN
updated 10:14 AM EST, Tue January 29, 2013
 According to Campus Pride Chick-fil-A restaurants have not funded anti-same-sex-marriage groups since 2011.
According to Campus Pride Chick-fil-A restaurants have not funded anti-same-sex-marriage groups since 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Campus Pride says it received philanthropic foundation's tax forms
  • WinShape Foundation quit funding some controversial groups in 2011, official says
  • Chick-fil-A president sparked debate last year with comments on same-sex marriage
  • Campus Pride's leader says he's developed relationship with Chick-fil-A chief

(CNN) -- Chick-fil-A restaurants' philanthropic WinShape Foundation no longer funds the most controversial and politically charged anti-same-sex-marriage groups and has not since 2011, according to Campus Pride, a leading national LGBT campus organization.

Campus Pride issued a statement Monday claiming that Chick-fil-A gave the organization's executive director, Shane Windmeyer, access to WinShape's 2011 "990" tax documents.

He said they show that the nearly $6 million in outside grant funding "focuses on youth, education, marriage enrichment and local communities" and that in the list of the foundation's beneficiaries, "the most divisive, anti-LGBT groups are no longer listed." Among those groups were the Family Research Council, Eagle Forum and Exodus International.

Windmeyer acknowledged that WinShape continues to fund groups that don't condone same-sex marriage based on biblical beliefs but says these groups, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, don't operate with the same hard-nosed political agenda the other groups are known for.

Chick-fil-A pres.: Focused on the family
Campus Pride suspends Chick-fil-A protest
Chick-fil-A caught in firestorm
Blocking construction of Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy sparked controversy last July when he weighed in on same-sex marriage, telling The Baptist Press, "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit."

Read more: Chicken, with a side of politics

Gay rights groups were most incensed about the chain's financial support for what they called anti-gay groups.

The ensuing debate included politicians from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

Some proponents of same-sex marriage called for a boycott of the chain, which had annual sales of more than $4.1 billion last year. It has more than 1,615 locations in 39 states and Washington, and they are closed on Sundays.

Many who agreed with Cathy took the opportunity to share their beliefs on August 1, dubbed "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Their purchase of chicken sandwiches and nuggets to show their support for the restaurant chain and its president brought the restaurant chain record sales.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation then promoted a National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country on August 3.

"Students on college campuses have been concerned with the giving practices of Chick-fil-A for years," Windmeyer said. "Those comments just added fuel to the fire."

Students protested on both sides of the issue, and some schools weighed the possibility of removing Chick fil-A from cafeterias and dining halls. However, Windmeyer says many people -- perhaps even himself -- did not take the opportunity to embrace the opportunity for civil discussion on the issue.

"There was a lot of divisiveness and hate on both sides," said Windmeyer. "It was like the Chick-fil-A brand was a chicken sandwich with purpose."

What does free speech mean to you? Chick-fil-A debate strikes nerve

Windmeyer says Cathy called him August 10. He expected an argument, yelling, anger, maybe even a lawyer to jump on the line, but instead there was an hour-long private conversation.

After months of conversations, e-mails and text messages, Windmeyer says, he has developed a personal relationship with Cathy, met his family and even attended the Chick-fil-A Bowl, a college football game on New Year's Eve.

"It is about opposing viewpoints, not opposing people," Windmeyer said. "Dan cares about young people and was upset to hear how his company was being used to hurt LGBT students."

Campus Pride says that after Windmeyer and Cathy began to discuss their beliefs and points of view, it suspended a national college campaign against the restaurant in an "effort to find common ground" around the values of respect and dignity Chick fil-A published on its website.

"The Chick-fil-A controversy continues to impact the lives of LGBT students and provides an opportunity for every college campus to assess their LGBT institutional commitment," Windmeyer said. "Administrators have a responsibility to ensure a safe learning environment and should recognize the toll of the controversy by committing resources and services to ensure LGBT students feel safe and welcome on campus."

Neither Chick-fil-A nor the WinShape Foundation returned calls seeking comment.

According to its website, Chick-fil-A -- a privately held chicken restaurant chain -- has more than 1,615 locations in 39 states and Washington, D.C., with annual sales of over $4.1 billion in 2011.

Opinion: The right way and the wrong way to protest Chick-fil-A

WinShape Foundation filed the tax forms on November 15, according to Campus Pride, and they are public information that will be released by the IRS when it deems fit.

Tax-exempt organizations and nonprofits such as the WinShape Foundation must file 990 documents each year and release a list of organizations that received support.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT