Chick-fil-A Gay Controversy Continues To Build
The controversy created by the recent statement of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy that the company supports the "biblical definition of the family unit" -- meaning, that it opposes gay marriage -- continues to mount.
In the last few days, according to press reports, the negative fallout has included gay rights groups calling for a boycott of the chain; the Jim Henson Co. withdrawing its toys from the QSR chain (and stating that it would donate money from the toys to gay-rights organization GLAAD); and political leaders in Boston and Chicago announcing that the chain is not welcome in their cities.
Today, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Public Citizen jumped on the controversy to bolster its petition campaign, launched in March, urging PBS to end a four-year marketing agreement between the kids show "Martha Speaks" and Chick-fil-A.
The campaign was based on concerns about childhood obesity. However, the groups are now saying that "PBS Kids should end this partnership with a company that not only harms children's health, but also fosters the exclusion and hatred of the LGBT community." The groups said that more than 7,500 people had so far signed their petition.
Late last week, Chick-fil-A made a stab at damage control by issuing a statement that, "going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena."
However, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Chick-fil-A spokesperson did not respond to questions on whether the chain would stop donating to causes that oppose gay marriage.
And this week, various media reported that the chain had attempted to position the unavailability of the Henson toys in its stores as a "possible safety issue," rather than stating that Henson had withdrawn the toys.
In addition, Gizmodo.com ran a piece stating that Chick-fil-A "appears to have made fake Facebook accounts to defend its honor on the social network." The piece drew posts mostly expressing fury about the alleged fake accounts.
However, Chick-fil-A is also drawing passionate support from conservative Christian groups and individuals who support the values espoused by Cathy.
AP reported that Christian conservatives across the Bible Belt, where most of the chain's 1,600 restaurants are located, "have thrown their support behind the Atlanta-based company, promising to buy chicken sandwiches and waffle fries next week on "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day."
And as a recent Marketing Daily post noted, even PR/marketing pros are divided on whether the controversy may ultimately help or hurt the chain.