Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans Missouri Group Pressures Local Civic Boosters to Disinvite Chick-fil-A Head Honcho

Mar 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm
Cock? Or chicken? - Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
Cock? Or chicken?

PROMO, a statewide group that advocates for the lesbian, gay, transgender and bi communities, got 'er done this week, persuading the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and the nonprofit group FOCUS St. Louis to cancel a luncheon appearance by Dan Cathy, president and COO of the increasingly obviously not-very-gay-friendly fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.

Raise your hand if you think that was a bonehead move on PROMO's part. (Better yet, whatever you think, respond to the poll at the end of this post.)

Over the past few months, news reports have illuminated Chick-Fil-A's Christianity-infused corporate practices and its close ties to "pro-family" organizations, including the company's own nonprofit, the WinShape Foundation.

According to the FOCUS website, Cathy was to have treated attendees at next Friday's "box lunch" to a presentation about "lessons learned from a career in the restaurant industry, including his 'leadership toolkit' that will help you grow as a leader."

But PROMO mobilized its base, mounting an online petition drive to persuade the CCC and FOCUS to nix Cathy and his Bible-based business philosophy and "seek out a leader who commits to providing TRUE leadership qualities, including diversity and inclusion, and who commits themselves to the betterment of the entire community."

And the luncheon hosts rescinded their invitation.

FOCUS said in a statement that "[i]t has come to our attention that our co-sponsorship of a presentation by Dan Cathy, the COO of Chick-fil-A, would be seen by some in the St. Louis community as inconsistent with our deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, and that his appearance could become a forum for issues other than the business leadership issues which Mr. Cathy intended to address. As a result, we believe that the original purpose of this forum cannot be fulfilled and that it is in the best interests of all concerned that we cancel this event."

Clayton Chamber of Commerce executive director Ellen Gale is quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explaining that neither the CCC nor FOCUS had been aware of Cathy's views: "'We are a pro-diversity culture here and certainly don't want to offend anyone,' Gale said. 'We didn't know anything about this when he was booked.'"

So, mission accomplished, right? After all, Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy is nothing but an anti-gay bigot and one of PROMO's stated goals is "equality for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity[, which] will put us one step closer to a society where all voices are heard and all people are free."

All voices but Dan Cathy's, evidently.

Dan Cathy, gettin' all religious up in here.
Just imagine how many voices might have been heard if, rather than mobilizing to kill the Cathy presentation, the PROMO crew had signed up for it, attended, and queried Cathy about his intolerant views.

OK, here's a thought: PROMO should invite Cathy to its own luncheon, hand out box lunches -- hell, get 'em at Chick-fil-A! -- and hash things out with no distractions.

Would the COO be ballsy enough to come? Now that's what you call a game of chicken!