“A Side of Prejudice with That?”

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When you walk into a fast food restaurant and place your order, there are many things that you expect to get: food, a drink, some napkins, a couple of packets of ketchup and salt. At most places, that pretty much covers the gamut, but not at Chick-fil-A. No, at Chick-fil-A you get something extra … a little discrimination with each and every purchase. Don’t see it? (Try looking under the waffle fries… it’s definitely there somewhere.)

Every time you pay for something at Chick-fil-A, you pay for discrimination. Part of your money goes to finance anti-LGBTQ groups including Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, Exodus International, and the Pennsylvania Family Institute. Let’s take a brief look at each of these organizations.

Focus on the Family (FOTF) has worked against LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage for a number of years. They joined with other groups to form ProtectMarriage.com to support passage of the 2008, Proposition 8 in California’s that banned same-sex marriage in. FOTF claims that the LGBTQ community is out to destroy marriage and the traditional family.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was formed in 2007 for the express purpose of preventing LGBTQ folk from being able to legally obtain civil unions or marriage. They have worked towards these ends in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia, and are best known for their efforts in California. Exodus International (EI) started in 1976 and is part of the ex-gay ministries movement. This movement believes that, with therapy, homosexuals can be changed into heterosexuals.

The Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI) also works against LGBTQ rights. When California’s Proposition 8 was struck down as unconstitutional, they filed an amicus brief against this ruling. They also lobbied against proposed state legislation to ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. In February of 2011, Chick-fil-A co-sponsored an event with PFI titled: “The Art of Marriage.” The event was intended to bring Pennsylvania back to “the biblical definition of marriage.”

Chick-fil-A owners assert that their entire business model is rooted in Christianity. The official statement of the corporation’s purpose is: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.” All of the company’s stores are closed on Sunday. Truett Cathy, the company’s founder, states that this is “our way of honoring God.” The company puts its Christian principles into practice by placing Christian toys and CDs in their children’s meals. Veggie Tales toys, Financial Peace for Kids books, and Adventures in Odyssey CDs from the radio division of Focus on the Family are some of the things given away.

Chick-fil-A finances anti-LGBTQ groups through its WinShape Foundation. College scholarships, boys and girls camps, foster homes, and a marriage retreat are some of the things offered. All of the programs are founded on the ideals of Christian belief. The marriage retreat is open to couples ranging from those who need a breather from the world to those who are considering divorce. All couples are welcome except for same-sex couples. Apparently they can just suffer.

On a number of college campuses, students are organizing to either remove Chick-fil-A or keep it from coming to their campus. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign joins Indiana University-South Bend, Texas Tech University, the University of New Orleans, Mississippi State University, Indiana University Bloomington, the University of Arizona, and the University of Mississippi in trying to remove the franchise. Duke University, the University of North Texas, Florida Gulf Coast University, and Louisiana State University are trying to keep Chick-fil-A from coming to their campuses.

In February of this year, the LGBTQ student group , OUTlaw, started the drive to prevent the renewal of the Illini Union’s Chick-fil-A contract. MSE Branded Foods currently handles all of our food services. The UIUC’s con- tract with MSE Branded Foods ends in December of 2012. OUTlaw created the Facebook page, “UI Students Against Chick Fil A on Campus,” to let folks know about their efforts. In coordination with what OUTlaw has done, eQuality Champaign-Urbana has organized a boycott of Chick-fil-A that began in early March. Go to the “Boycott Chick-fil-A” UIUC group on Facebook to show your support.

Some extras with our food are good, others aren’t. Homophobia is never a desired extra, no matter what. When we eat at Chick-fil-A,, we are financing the work of those who fight against equality. I for one refuse to pay for the discrimination against friends, family, co-workers or myself, and that is why I am boycotting Chick-fil-A.

About Paul Nolan

Paul Nolan is a Champaign-Urbana resident and member of the local LGBT activist group eQuality Champaign-Urbana.
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