Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A came out swinging on Tuesday, putting its president Dan Cathy in a video message in an attempt to get in front of a brewing controversy over the chicken chain’s support of anti-gay organizations. In a folksy, nearly three-minute video, Cathy stresses that because a franchise operator opted to provide sandwiches and brownies to an anti-gay group for two upcoming events supporting heterosexual marriage doesn’t mean that the corporate parent endorses the Pennsylvania Family Institute. Cathy’s comments were similar to Chick-fil-A’s initial statement on the flap that pitches the food donation as part of their effort to serve local communities. “From the very first day, my dad made the decision that he would treat every customer that walked through the door with genuine hospitality,” Cathy (photo) says. “That policy has served our organization well for more then 60 years. Heartfelt hospitality is at the core of Chick-fil-A. We want to welcome into a comfortable environment all of our guests and this commitment is a daily focus.” But it’s a tough chicken nugget for some to swallow. Chick-fil-A is affiliated with several anti-gay groups, including the National Organization for Marriage and its busload of bigots that came through Atlanta last summer. It’s also difficult to imagine that gay couples would be welcome at the April “romantic adventure” retreat for couples at the WinShape Foundation, the North Georgia organization that Chick-fil-A bankrolls. Not surprisingly, gay critics of the restaurant company aren’t satisfied with Cathy’s response. Change.org says the statement is tantamount to telling gay customers “you're more than welcome to eat our chicken sandwiches, but we're still going to give donations and partner with organizations that are fighting against your civil rights.”
But the "values all people" part? That's a bit of a tougher pill to swallow. Because as has been documented extensively, Chick-fil-A has major connections, through its charitable arm, to some of the fiercest anti-gay organizations in the country. These include the National Organization for Marriage, the leading organization in the country fighting same-sex marriage; Exodus International, an organization that tries to cure people of their sexual orientation through therapy; and Focus on the Family, which once said that same-sex marriage was a bigger disaster than Pearl Harbor. How can you partner with groups like this, and say you "value all people"? Because these organizations have no intention of valuing LGBT people.More than 23,000 people have signed Change.org’s online petition calling on Chick-fil-A to drop its ties to the Pennsylvania group.