Chick-fil-A billionaire CEO says his anti-gay marriage statements hurt business

ChickFilA-ChickenSandwich-e1395231520696Forbes magazine reported that in the summer of 2012, the billionaire family behind fast food chain Chick-fil-A found themselves … well, if not in hot water, then in a piping vat of chicken grease.

That year, with same-sex marriage on four state ballots, the scion of Forbes rich list stalwart S. Truett Cathy (net worth: $6.2 billion) hit headlines for taking a public stance against equal rights.

In July, Truett’s son Dan, Chick-fil-A’s CEO, told the Baptist Press he was “guilty as charged” in his support of what he described as traditional marriage.

“We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles,” Cathy said.

The fast food chain’s in-your-face Christian values weren’t exactly news even then. Forbes ran a story on The Cult of Chick-fil-A in 2007 and its stores closing on Sunday to allow workers to attend church.

Rather, it was Dan Cathy’s reaffirmation of his firm’s same-sex marriage stance that set off a wave of protests, with LGBT kiss-ins at Chick-fil-A stores and even some lampooning via music video, with three drag queens skewering Chick-fil-A to the tune of Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.” (Sample lyric: Some day somebody’s gonna make you wanna gobble up a waffle fry / But no go, don’t you know, Chick-fil-A says you make the baby Jesus cry.)

Now, almost two years later, Dan Cathy — a self-described evangelical Christian — says he made a mistake.

In a rare and wide-ranging interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cathy admitted his anti-equality stance probably wasn’t a wise business decision, regretting “making the company a symbol in the marriage debate:”

“Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development, and it helps by [recognizing] the mistakes that you make,” Cathy said. “And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.”

Cathy agreed that the “lingering identity” of Chick-fil-A with “anti-gay groups” that jumped to its defense in 2012 has meant “alienating market segments.”

“Consumers want to do business with brands that they can interface with, that they can relate with,” Cathy said. “And it’s probably very wise from our standpoint to make sure that we present our brand in a compelling way that the consumer can relate to.”

Cathy himself hasn’t changed his own views on same-sex marriage. As he told the AJC: “I think the time of truths and principles are captured and codified in God’s word, and I’m just personally committed to that. I know others feel very different from that, and I respect their opinion, and I hope that they would be respectful of mine.”

What is clear is that his family’s fried chicken business, which made $4.6 billion in sales in 2012, will be staying out of the fray when it comes to equality.

“I think that’s a political debate that’s going to rage on,” he told the Journal-Sentinel. “And the wiser thing for us to do is to stay focused on customer service.”

Read more about the billionaire Cathys, including charitable donations to anti-gay-marriage groups, here.

—  Steve Ramos

Mayor Rawlings backs equality resolution before Wednesday vote

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during an LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall in June 2011.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings plans to support the LGBT equality resolution when it goes before the full council during a briefing Wednesday.

“Mayor Rawlings supports the resolution in its current form,” Rawlings spokesman Sam Merten emailed to Dallas Voice.

Councilmembers will debate the resolution Wednesday and can make changes to the measure.

After fighting the marriage equality resolution last year, calling it a “misuse” of council time and blocking it from the agenda, Rawlings placed the current resolution on the agenda for this week. But he delayed the vote a week so the council could ask legal questions in executive session last week.

LGBT advocates showed up in red to urge the council to support the resolution, which is expected to pass with 13 votes now that Rawlings is in favor. Councilmembers Vonciel Jones Hill and Sheffie Kadane, who’ve both spoken out against the LGBT community based on religious views, are sure to vote against the measure. Kadane voted against the resolution in committee.

Supporters are encouraged to pack the 9 a.m. meeting again Wednesday dressed in red.

The resolution is a comprehensive statement of support that instructs city staff to fix inequities that exist for LGBT employees. Staff will report to the Finance, Budget and Audit Committee quarterly and changes requiring a vote will have to be approved by the council.

The “resolution supporting equal rights for the employees of the City of Dallas, citizens within the City of Dallas, and visitors to the City of Dallas to address disparate treatment, if any, of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons,” the agenda states about the item.

The resolution, below, has a few minor revisions explaining the process of the city manager and city staff to implement changes. Staff is encouraged to make administrative changes and bring others before committee and then the council for final approval.

“The resolution itself does not change any existing City procedure or ordinance, nor does the resolution itself authorize any actions or expenditures,” the agenda item reads.  ”Rather, the resolution directs the City Manager and the City Council’s appointees to the pension boards to explore actions to further the goals of the resolution and initiate any necessary processes through the appropriate channels to amend City policies, procedures, or ordinances. The City Manager or his designee is directed to report quarterly to the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee to keep City Council informed of progress toward implementing this resolution and any proposed actions. Any changes to existing City ordinances or expenditures of funds will require further City Council action.”

Read the resolution below.

—  Dallasvoice

Disney ends funding to Boy Scouts over gay policy

Unknown-1LOS ANGELES  — The Walt Disney Company will cut funding to the Boy Scouts of America beginning in 2015 because of a policy that bans gay adult leaders in the organization, The Associated Press reported.

The Boy Scouts organization is “disappointed” by the decision, which will affect the organization’s ability to serve children, Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, said in a statement Sunday. Disney does not provide direct funding to the Boy Scouts, but it donates money to some troops in exchange for volunteer hours completed by Disney employees, he said.

“We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids,” he said.

David Jefferson, chief spokesman for The Walt Disney Company, did not respond to calls or emails.

Disney’s decision came to light after the president of a local Boy Scout council based in Orlando, Fla., where Disney World is based, sent a memo alerting local troops to the decision.

The memo was posted on the website of Scouts for Equality, an organization that is critical of the Boy Scouts’ policy to ban adult gay troop leaders.

The Boy Scouts lifted a ban on gay youth last year.

—  Steve Ramos

Lobbyist drafts bill to ban gays from NFL

Jack-Burkman-Photo

Jack Burkman

Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman on Monday said he is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League, The Hill reported.

Burkman in a statement said he has garnered political support for the bill, though his statement didn’t mention any specific lawmakers who are behind it.

”We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

Burkman said he came up with the idea after college football star Michael Sam publicly revealed he is gay a few weeks ago. If drafted, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Jason Collins on Sunday became the first openly gay athlete to play for a major men’s professional sports team when he suited up for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets against the Los Angeles Lakers.

A number of Democratic lawmakers voiced their support of Sam after he revealed his sexual orientation in an interview with ESPN, and first lady Michelle Obama hailed him as an “inspiration.”

Burkman was not available to speak with The Hill, but in his statement, he urged Congress to act.

“If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it,” Burkman said.

Burkman serves as founder and president of his own lobbying firm, Burkman Associates. He has also worked as of counsel at law firm Holland & Knight. In the 1990s, he served as counsel to then-Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.).

Burkman’s firm, JM Burkman & Associates, signed 70 new clients last year, the most of any K Street firm, a recent review by The Hill found.

The four-lobbyist firm specializes in helping companies secure contracts with the federal government.

—  Steve Ramos

Williamson Co. Democratic chair’s campaign manager accused of making anti-gay comments about challenger

Braden Frame

Braden Frame

A central Texas campaign manager for Williamson County Democratic Chair Karen Carter has been accused of making anti-gay comments about Carter’s primary opponent, Braden Frame.

In a Feb. 12 recording sent to Dallas Voice, Carter’s campaign manager Terry Cook is heard saying “he has no staying power. With anything. He can’t stay with his wife, he can’t stay with his sexual preferences. He can’t stay.”

The sender wrote that Cook is talking about Frame.

“I was recently made aware of a homophobic statement made by Terry Cook, the campaign manager for Williamson County Chair candidate Karen Carter,” the e-mail to Dallas Voice reads.” As a member of the queer community, I was disgusted to hear this and wanted to make sure the LGBTQ+ community knows that the current County Chair has staff who are homophobic. Terry, Karen’s campaign manager, is also a Precinct Chair and engaged in the county party leadership.”

Cook said the comments were taken out of context during a political planning meeting for another candidate and were not anti-gay. She said back in 2008 when Frame came onto the county’s political scene, there were rumors that he was gay.

“It was all about perceived inconsistencies with Braden’s life,” Cook said, adding that Carter has been a consistent leader in the county’s Democratic Party. “And I shouldn’t have said that. That is my mistake.”

Cook said she doesn’t remember how Frame came up in the conversation last week, adding that the comments were wrong.

“I am so sorry I made those comments,” she said.  “It was so out of place.”

Cook said people have accused Carter of saying anti-gay things about openly gay Congressional District 31 candidate Louie Minor. But she said Carter told Minor in private that he should be out, but he should focus his campaign on the issues, not have his sexual orientation be the campaign’s centerpiece. If elected, Minor would be the first openly gay congressman from Texas.

—  Dallasvoice

Sen. Ted Cruz introduces anti-gay marriage bill

Ted CruzU.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has introduced a bill to defend states’ rights to define marriage.

Cruz introduced the State Marriage Defense Act Thursday to amend U.S. law “with regard to the definition of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ for Federal purposes and to ensure respect for State regulation of marriage.” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is the bill’s only co-sponsor.

“It will ensure the federal government gives the same deference to the 33 states that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman as it does to the 17 states that have chosen to recognize same-sex unions,” said a statement issued by the authors.

“I support traditional marriage. Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to re-define marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens,” Cruz said in a statement. “The Obama Administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states. We should respect the states, and the definition of marriage should be left to democratically elected legislatures, not dictated from Washington. This bill will safeguard the ability of states to preserve traditional marriage for its residents.”

The Republican senator from Texas is the second congressman to introduce anti-gay marriage legislation this year. Congressman Randy Weber, R-Friendswood, filed the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014 in January to require the federal government to issue benefits only to same-sex couples who live in states with marriage equality. After June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government recognizes all same-sex marriages for benefits despite where a couple resides.

—  Dallasvoice

Task Force’s Rea Carey says to keep momentum going to create more change

Rea Carey, executiove director of the Natinla Gay and Lesbian Task Force, speaks about the future of the LGBT movement at  the Creating Change conference in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, speaks about the future of the LGBT movement at the Creating Change conference in Houston. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

HOUSTON — Rea Carey expects the momentum from 2013 to carry over and encourage more change and success for the LGBT community this year in areas like immigration reform, healthcare coverage and nondiscrimination legislation.

Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called on the 4,000 people at the National Conference for LGBT Equality: Creating Change to reflect on the advances last year and fight for more in the coming months during her State of the Movement speech on Friday.

“2013 showed us and this country that the wins of 2012 weren’t a fluke,” Carey said. “The momentum is in favor of progressive change. We are here to stay, our progress will continue and we will not allow this country to turn back.”

—  Dallasvoice

HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

wendy-davis-hrc-blog450

The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, is endorsing state Sen. Wendy Davis in her gubernatorial bid, the organization announced Wednesday.

“Wendy Davis has been a champion for equality for all, whether it is the working poor or LGBT Texans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Her dedication to the underdog and commitment to fairness for all Texas families make her the right choice for Governor.”

Davis has a proven record on LGBT issues in the state Legislature.

She authored the only LGBT-inclusive version of anti-bullying legislation in 2011. That same year she co-sponsored youth suicide prevention legislation and lobbied to kill an anti-transgender marriage bill.

Last year’s session was just as impressive with her co-authoring the Senate version of a statewide workplace nondiscrimination bill and co-authoring inclusive insurance nondiscrimination legislation. And when a different version of the anti-trans marriage bill came up, she was one of only two senators to vote against it.

HRC endorsed Davis because of her “stellar record on LGBT equality” and ” history of putting Texas’ families first,” compared to anti-gay Greg Abbott, her likely opponent in November.

“Wendy Davis’ energy and courage are needed in Austin,” said Julie Johnson, a Texas attorney and HRC board member emeritus. “I’m proud to be one of the tens of thousands of HRC members in Texas, and I know that Wendy will fight for all our families when elected. Wendy has proven herself an effective leader — and that’s exactly what the people of Texas need.”

But, surprisingly, she wasn’t connected to any of the three pieces of legislation dealing with marriage equality last year, HJR 77, HJR 78 and HB 1300. Davis has never made a public statement in support of marriage equality, and when asked by Dallas Voice during a press conference about how she would approach it as governor, she replied that she would leave it in the Legislature’s hands.

Since filing for governor, Davis has publicly applauded San Antonio’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Davis supported a similar ordinance in 2000 when she served on the Fort Worth City Council. But her campaign has since been silent on LGBT issues. Davis was a surprise speaker at HRC’s Black Tie Dinner in November, and she’ll be attending a Dallas LGBT fundraiser at a lesbian couple’s home this Friday, which is closed to media. Despite showing up at fundraisers and events where she appeals to LGBT voters, her campaign has refused several requests for an interview with Dallas Voice for the reason that she is too busy.

—  Dallasvoice

Louie Minor not shocked by John Carter’s support of DOMA 2.0, says ‘it’s time’ to represent LGBT Texans

Louie

Louie Minor

Louie Minor, the out veteran challenging Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter in Central Texas, said he’s not surprised the congressman recently co-sponsored the State Marriage Defense Act.

The bill would prohibit legally married same-sex couples in states that don’t recognize their marriages, like Texas, from receiving federal benefits.

“I was disappointed that they filed it, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Minor told Dallas Voice this week. “For over a decade, John Carter has continually voted against the LGBT community, and he’s received a zero on the HRC scorecard. So now I think it’s time for us to elect a congressman that will represent LGBT Texans and be our voice in Washington.”

Carter, who’s held the seat since 2002, has received a zero each session on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard, which rates members of Congress on their support for LGBT issues.

Minor said that while there’s some timing to the fact that Carter signed on to sponsor an anti-gay bill when he’s facing an openly gay challenger, he said the legislation likely would’ve surfaced anyway. Both Carter and Minor are unopposed in their primaries.

“To be honest, I think he would’ve voted that way regardless if he was running against an openly gay candidate,” he said. “That’s just what he opposes.”

Since an interview with Dallas Voice about his candidacy, Minor said he hasn’t received any negative feedback in the district about being an openly gay candidate. He said he’s seen some sarcastic comments about the likelihood of him defeating a tea party Republican in conservative Texas to be the first openly gay congressman from the state.

“I think that this should be a wakeup call for the LGBT community and their allies across the state,” Minor said about the legislation. “There’s 12 Texan congressman that co-sponsored, so it should be a wakeup call that we have to organize, we have to work together, we have to support candidates, especially an LGBT candidate, to be our voice. Because if we do nothing, than nothing will change.”

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas hate crime victim brutally beaten starts fund for medical bills

Hate-Crime

Editor’s note: The pictures below are graphic and may not be suitable for young readers.

Arron Keahey, the victim of a brutal beating over Labor Day weekend, has started a GoFundMe account to help cover his medical bills.

Keahey, who lived in Dallas a time, was in Springtown, a small town about 70 miles west of Dallas in Parker County, visiting family for the weekend. He went to a man’s house after meeting him on the social app MeetMe and was attacked when he arrived.

Keahey’s injuries included brain trauma, nerve damage and broken facial bones. He had to have facial reconstruction surgery and has a metal eye socket now. His goal on the site is to raise $10,000.

Brice Johnson, 19, was arrested for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony, which Springtown police are investigating as a hate crime.

If prosecutors seek a hate crime enhancement under state law to a first-degree felony, he could face five years to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, according to the Texas Penal Code.

Keahey writes on the site:

“My name is Arron Keahey, and I was recently lured and ambushed, beaten to almost an inch of my life, after meeting someone on a social app, because I am gay. I had to have facial reconstructive surgery, had brain trauma as well as memory loss, and am having problems with anxiety and depression. I am having to start my life over, and I am needing help for medical bills, as well as everyday expenses and buying a car. Any donation to me will be truly appreciated, and I cannot thank you enough for your support.

“Even if you do not have the resources to donate, please at least share this article and spread the word of what happened. I truly believe that the more problems like this in this country are talked about, the less it will happen and the closer we will be to a solution.”

Photos of Keahey after the attack are below.

—  Dallasvoice