QNS reported on Saturday that Chick-fil-A plans to open its first Queens location at Queens Center mall in Elmhurst this fall. The response from our readers was full of mixed feelings over the company owner’s staunchly religious, conservative and anti-LGBT beliefs.
“Wow, they put a pickle on a breaded chicken breast! That’s totally worth supporting a company that donates money to anti-gay activism and ordinances,” one reader commented.
Another message stated, “They are anti-LGBT so f*** them.”
However, one commenter wrote, “It’s really good food though and lots of places are anti-gay that you don’t know about.”
The billion-dollar franchise made explosive headlines in July 2012 when its CEO and President Dan T. Cathy expressed homophobic beliefs during an interview with the Biblical Recorder. According to the religious organization, Cathy said “guilty as charged” when asked if the company was in “support of the traditional family.”
“I think the time of truths and principles are captured and codified in God’s word and I’m just personally committed to that,” Cathy told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I know others feel very different from that and I respect their opinion and I hope that they would be respectful of mine … I think that’s a political debate that’s going to rage on. And the wiser thing for us to do is to stay focused on customer service.”
Cathy’s anti-gay marriage response sparked tremendous backlash nationwide, followed by protests and boycotts of the company by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activists. However, counter-protesters gathered in support by eating at the Chick-fil-A restaurants.
Chick-fil-A further came under fire after Forbes magazine reported that its charitable wing, WinShape Foundation, donated millions of dollars to anti-gay marriage groups since 2003. The source cited a $1.9 million donation that WinShape contributed in 2010 to organizations including the Family Research Council and Marriage & Family Foundation.
News of Chick-fil-A’s arrival in Queens was not welcomed by one local lawmaker.
“I am deeply disturbed that Chick-fil-A continues to give 25 percent of their charitable contributions to anti-LGBT organizations … This group imparts a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love,” said Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is openly gay and leader of the Council’s LGBT Caucus.
“It is outrageous that Chick-fil-A is quietly spreading its message of hate by funding these types of organizations. I hope that the Queens Center Mall will reconsider giving a company so deeply involved in anti-gay discrimination a lease on their property. Believers in equality should boycott these purveyors of hate,” Dromm added.
Cathy’s religious beliefs, and that of the company’s founder Truett Cathy, also extend to Chick-fil-A’s operating hours. Chick-fil-A franchises are not open for business on Sunday, which many Christians consider to be a day of rest.
“[Truett Cathy] has often shared that his decision was as much practical as spiritual,” according to the Chick-fil-A website. “He believes that all franchised Chick-fil-A Operators and their Restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so. That’s why all Chick-fil-A Restaurants are closed on Sundays. It’s part of our recipe for success.”