By Michael Winter, USA TODAY
Two months after its president voiced the fast-food giant's opposition to same-sex marriage, Chick-fil-A has pledged to stop giving money to anti-gay groups and to not engage in social or political debates, a Chicago rights lobby says.
The Atlanta-based company also reiterated a stated policy to treat all employees equally.
Update at 8:28 a.m. ET:The (New York) Daily News says that a Chick-fil-A representative, asked for comment, would only say the company plans to "leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena," but did not confirm that the donations would end.
Original post: The apparent about-face means a city alderman will drop his opposition to the company's desire to open a second store in the Chicago, this one in the upscale Logan Square neighborhood, the Chicago Tribune reports.
In a press release Tuesday from The Civil Rights Agenda, which BuzzFeed first reported earlier today, the group said Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno "has confirmed that Chick-fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations and that they have clarified in an internal document that the company will treat every person equally, regardless of sexual orientation."
The group, which describes itself as "Illinois' leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights advocacy organization," cited a letter to Moreno from the company's head of real estate regarding Chick-fil-A's non-profit WinShape Foundations.
"The WinShape Foundation is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas," the letter states.
TCRA said that means Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to "Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage."
In a statement today, the National Organization for Marriage says it has "never received funding" from the WinShape Foundation.
"We support Chick-fil-A's philosophy that every person is treated with 'honor, dignity and respectâ??regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender;' and we will continue to endorse 'Chick-fil-A Wednesdays' calling upon all supporters of marriage, free speech and religious liberty to thank Chick-fil-A's president, Dan Cathy, for taking a courageous stand to speak out in defense of marriage and his freedom to speak," President Brian Brown said.
On Deadline is seeking comment from Focus on the Family.
The Tribune writes that the company's pledge to respect the sexual orientation of all employees "falls short of Moreno's goal of adding language opposing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the company's employee handbook." Moreno said the declaration to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect -- regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender" -- would be included in a memo that would be distributed to all corporate employees and restaurant operators.
Moreno said it would also declare Chick-fil-A "intent ... not to engage in political or social debates."
The equality pledge mimics the company's July 31 statement in response to the controversy:
"Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically based principles to managing his business.
"The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect â?? regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.
"Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."
BuzzFeed writes that a company e-mail today "did not contest the report ... though it also would not confirm the new report."
The imbroglio erupted in July after Dan Cathy, son of the founder, said in an interview with a Baptist newspaper that the company was "guilty as charged" for supporting the traditional family -- "the biblical definition of the family unit."