Chik-Fil-A has ended donations to hate groups, according to Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride. The life-long activist confirmed in a telephone interview today that he has indeed seen the 2011 IRS form 990 from WinShape, the charity arm of the popular chicken sandwich chain. Windmeyer also saw financials from 2012. While these documents are not yet public, he was given access to them by Dan Cathy, the chain’s CEO.
The story has since been picked up by major news groups, including CNN.
Windmeyer confirmed that the company has ceased donations to its most vitriolic recipients: the Family Research Council, Eagle Forum, and Exodus International. “However,” he said, “there are still large donations given to organizations that would like for me to not be with my husband of 18 years.”
Windmeyer’s article on Huffington Post outlined how he built a mutual dialoge and respect with Cathy, allowing the two men to build their conversation to the point that Windmeyer considered Cathy “a new friend.” The conversation wasn’t without concern, though. Windmeyer wrote:
As Dan and I grew through mutual dialogue and respect, he invited me to be his personal guest on New Year’s Eve at the Chick-fil-A Bowl. This was an event that Campus Pride and others had planned to protest. Had I been played? Seduced into his billionaire’s life? No. It was Dan who took a great risk in inviting me: He stood to face the ire of his conservative base (and a potential boycott) by being seen or photographed with an LGBT activist. He could have been portrayed as “caving to the gay agenda” by welcoming me.
Instead, he stood next to me most of the night, putting respect ahead of fear. There we were on the sidelines, Dan, his wife, his family and friends and I, all enjoying the game. And that is why building a relationship with someone I thought I would never understand mattered. Our worlds, different as they can be, could coexist peacefully. The millions of college football fans watching the game never could have imagined what was playing out right in front of them. Gay and straight, liberal and conservative, activist and evangelist — we could stand together in our difference and in our respect. How much better would our world be if more could do the same?
I can relate to Windmeyer’s comments on a slightly lower scale. I’ve been building a similar dialog with David Blevins, a local Chik-Fil-A franchisee. We’ve exchanged some very candid emails, but I feel confident that Blevins has a genuine heart to serve all members of our community. In fact, it was Blevins who pointed out Windmeyer’s article to me. “I think we’re making progress,” he said.
He’s right. We are making progress. Notice I didn’t say “they” are making progress. WE are making progress. WE as LGBT people and conservatives are making genuine progress to weed out the outright hate groups and build a dialog where we can all find some common, mutual ground.
I made a personal promise to Blevins that I would end my own personal boycott of Chik-Fil-A if we could get confirmation that the company ended support for a hate group. That is a promise I intend to keep. Plus, I’ll encourage my readers to consider doing likewise. After all, progress is progress.
Windmeyer said of his friendship with Cathy that he didn’t feel like the two men would ever fully change each other’s point of view on LGBT issues. “He’ll never change me, and I’ll probably never change him,” he said. However, the fact that two opposing points of view can find any common ground is worth shouting about.
And I don’t mind shouting. I’ll even shout over a chicken sandwich.