While it's mostly eager anticipation for Chick-fil-a in Los Angeles -- planning and construction continue on the Hollywood location, expected to open in summer 2011 -- the fast food chain has caused controversy on the other side of the country. After a Pennsylvania franchise sponsored and/or donated food (the definition gets murky) to an event hosted by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, some gay groups are calling fowl.
Hoping to calm the brewing controversy, Dan Cathy, president and son of Chick-fil-a founder Truett Cathy, on Tuesday posted this folksy video.
"Heartfelt hospitality is at the core of Chick-fil-a. We want a welcoming and comfortable environment for all of our guests," he says. He goes on to explain that the franchisee simply offered to provide sandwiches and brownies for a "community event."
Though the PFI describes itself as "a non-profit, non-partisan research and education organization," it has a very clear conservative social agenda. The group is vehemently opposed to abortion and worked to pass a constitutional amendment in Pennsylvania opposing same-sex marriage.
Is it any surprise that Chick-fil-a supports PFI? The Georgia-based company makes no secret of its Christian roots. It has over 1,500 fast food restaurants in 39 states, all of which are closed on Sundays. (Even the Lord's deep-fryers need their rest.) As gay rights group Change.org notes:
If an organization is anti-gay -- Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, the Pennsylvania Family Institute, Exodus International -- the chances that Chick-fil-A has either donated to them, or worked with them via Chick-fil-A's charitable branch is darn near 100 percent.
But Cathy doesn't want you to think that makes his company anti-gay. It just makes them proponents of strengthening marriage.
Change.org's petition (at the bottom of the above link) urging Chick-fil-A to pull sponsorship from the Pennsylvania event has so far received over 23,000 signers, but Chick-fil-a has many supporters on its Facebook page.