Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Boycott and Public Interest Advisory to Kentucky Universities – Kentucky Equality Federation defends the University of Louisville

The recent statements by Dan Cathy, President and COO of Chick-Fil-A, regarding equal marriage rights have sparked outrage from the Kentucky Equality Federation, as well as Marriage Equality Kentucky. Protests and boycotts by individuals and groups throughout the Commonwealth have shown that this is not just a national but also a local issue for supporters of equality in Kentucky.

Chick-Fil-A has exercised its right as a privately held company to openly support homophobic causes and organizations. However, the company has taken this one step further and insulted the public with its recent deceptions and misinformation given to cover up the recent severance of its relationship with Jim Henson’s entertainment enterprise known as “The Muppets.”

“Chick-Fil-A has every right to do business and spend profits as it sees fit,” said Kentucky Equality Federation President Joshua Koch. “We are offended that they continue to oppose equality, but this has been an ongoing issue. Their new campaign of slander against the safety of toys is a new twist, but it is not surprising.

“However, these recent statements have shed additional light on the fact that public universities in Kentucky are using student money to support and foster Chick-Fil-A, a company which has financially supported anti-equality in the LGBTI community. We have confirmed franchises exist at University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and Eastern Kentucky University. Some of these franchises are run under the auspices of Aramark and Sodexo; however the money still goes to support Chick-Fil-A and subsequently their discriminatory agendas.

“Kentucky universities have a commendable history of supporting equality. We are advising them that they are financially supporting an anti-equality for-profit corporation by allowing Chick-Fil-A franchises to do business on campus, and we request that they re-evaluate those franchises for rebranding.” “We are not opposing rights to free speech, association, or religious beliefs,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation Legal Director Jillian Hall, Attorney-at-Law. “However, Chick-Fil-A is directly using profits derived from customers as a tool for opposing equality by donating to organizations that are actively fighting LGBTI equality. The decision to eat at this establishment is a very personal one, but this is not a passive issue – just because a chicken sandwich is the middle-man doesn’t mean you aren’t directly funding the anti-equality movement each and every time you walk up to that counter.”

The Kentucky Equality Federation board also made statements on the nature of the situation.

“Mr. Cathy and Chick-Fil-A have taken a position against marriage equality that is both discriminatory and highly politically divisive,” said Kentucky Equality Federation Board Chairman Brandon Combs. “All individuals and organizations who believe in marriage and civil equality should avoid Chick-Fil-A, as their money will go directly to funding organizations actively working against that ideal. I also call all public universities to follow the path of the University of Louisville, and closely examine the franchise contracts with Chick-Fil-A.”

“The position of Chick-Fil-A is appalling; a restaurant chain is openly opposing equality for all people and using their restaurants to carry that message,” stated Kentucky Equality Federation founder and board member Jordan Palmer. “In the end, the decision to eat or not eat at Chick-Fil-shall be a question of conscience by every citizen; I will certainly never eat at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant.”

University of Louisville comes under attack because of Chick-Fil-A position:

It should be noted that certain radical right-wing groups who oppose equality have made inflammatory statements regarding the expansion of the ongoing Chick-Fil-A boycott. Several have compared this to tyranny, demolition of free speech, and totalitarianism. We take a moment to remind the anti-equality forces of their hypocrisy.

These are a few of the companies so-called pro-family organizations have boycotted and abused for supporting political causes, providing equal employee benefits, or some other supposed offense against morality: Hallmark Cards, McDonald’s, Ford Motor Company, American Girl, Abercrombie & Fitch, Pepsi, Target, Calvin Klein, Kraft Foods, Domino’s Pizza, Campbell Soup, Clorox, Comcast, Mary Kay, Walt Disney, Tide, and S.C. Johnson & Co. This is just a small fraction of companies that have been bullied by various “family” organizations, which are now pretending that boycotts by the pro-equality community are an illegitimate form of protest.

Here in Kentucky, we have seen the temper tantrums flare up from the raging enemies of equality. The Family Foundation of Kentucky and the American Family Association of Kentucky have attacked the University of Louisville, even insinuating that the university should no longer receive aid if it reviews its contract relationship with Chick-Fil-A. In 2007, The Family Trust Foundation of Kentucky sent unsolicited spam email to the University of Kentucky while they considered domestic-partner benefits.

We condemn this juvenile conduct, and we remind Kentucky that our universities are our first line of vocational and educational defense in this recession. Injuring our higher education system over a restaurant franchise would devastate Kentucky’s future. Kentucky Equality Federation proudly stands for a strong Kentucky, whatever University of Louisville decides.

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