JUSTIN BERRIER/Media Matters for America
Fox News figures, in defending Chick-fil-A from criticism over its aggressive opposition to marriage equality, are covering up the restaurant's anti-gay record, which includes millions in corporate donations to groups that spread misinformation about LGBT individuals and marriages.
Chick-fil-A has drawn criticism since its president, Dan Cathy, came out strongly against marriage equality,saying, among other things, that "we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' "
In response to that criticism, which he referred to as "vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry," Fox News host Mike Huckabee declared August 1 to be "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" and asked his audience to eat at Chick-fil-A today in order to "affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse."
Fox News figures were quick to take up the charge. Fox host Eric Bolling supported the effort by asking Twitter followers to send him pictures of themselves eating at Chick-fil-A. On the July 31 edition of The Five, Bolling aired a few of the pictures, which he said showed that support for Chick-fil-A has "nothing to do with the gay rights discussion."
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes tweeted that "a Chick-fil-A sandwich" is the "best defense against anti-Christian, anti-Chicken, leftwing, heterophobic bigots."
On today's edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson suggested that opponents of Cathy's anti-marriage equality stance have "taken [it] a step too far" because "an important point to make ... is just because you're in favor of traditional marriage, doesn't mean you discriminate against gay people."
Carlson's treatment of the story distils the dishonest narrative that the right-wing media is employing in their simultaneous support of Cathy and his company and their attacks on supporters of marriage equality. What Fox's Chick-fil-A cheerleading consistently ignores is that the company is not only owned and operated by an opponent of marriage equality, but that it has donated millions of dollars to anti-gay groups.
Through its charitable arm, WinShape, Chick-fil-A donated millions of dollars to organizations such as the Family Research Council, which is listed as an anti-gay "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition, WinShape has supported Exodus International, an umbrella ministry that supports controversial "ex-gay" legislation, and Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization that calls protections for LGBT people the "principal threat to your religious freedom." It has also donated to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization that has allegedly "freed" people from homosexuality and has condemned the "impure lifestyle" of homosexuality.
In addition to funding anti-gay advocacy, WinShape reportedly actively discriminates based on sexual orientation. The website Good For You posted an email discussion showing that WinShape prohibits same-sex couples from participating in programs such as the WinShape Retreat.