10 February 2017

Protest Action Planned Against Chick-fil-A in West Hartford, CT (Press Release)


Who: A group of citizens concerned about Chick-fil-A's policies and practices
When: Saturday, February 11th, 10am - 1pm
How: Politely distribute literature to prospective customers
Where: Chick-fil-A West Hartford, 509 New Park Avenue, West Hartford, CT 06107

Chick-fil-A has a history of opposing LGBTQ equality. Actively denigrating a segment of our population can make it easier for them to turn a blind eye to the farm factories providing most of their food, which employ inhumane practices that are cruel to the animals they raise. Despite promises to the contrary, Chick-fil-A continues to donate millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ organizations through its foundation and continues to source products from farm factories.

The protest, spearheaded by LGBTQ rights activist Peter C. Frank, has the support of organizations such as Connecticut Latinas/os Achieving Rights and Opportunities (CLARO), True Colors, Inc., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and Everything Transgender in New York City (ETNYC). Mr. Frank rallied fellow activists who are not satisfied with its blanket proclamations of "treating people with dignity."

"We're doing this not because Mr. Jackson decided to become a Chick-fil-A franchisee in West Hartford but rather to send a message to the Chick-fil-A corporation and its culture of devaluing living beings—such as LGBTQ people and chickens. It's about a corporation that has and continues to fund organizations creating such animus, including certified hate groups," Mr. Frank explained. Chick-fil-A continues to have a zero rating in the Human Rights Campaigns’ Buyer’s Guide.

Although protections are offered at the state level, Chick-fil-A's corporate policies on its web site do not list either "sexual orientation" or "gender identity or expression" in their nondiscrimination policy. They do, however, list other categories that are not included in the state law, which is commendable. However, this further raises the question as to why they fail to list "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" in their policies.

Their brand-new facility does not have a gender-neutral bathroom. Some locations have threatened not to serve customers who are "confused" about their gender, which has alarmed Jennifer Louise Lopez, a renowned transgender rights activist who grew up in the Hartford, CT region and serves as ETNYC's executive director. She called attention to comments from Daryl Jackson, "owner/operator of the West Hartford location, who recently was quoted as saying he's 'hiring for character' and '[doesn't] care if they are red, blue, [or] what their beliefs are."

Ms. Lopez believes such statements indicate an inherent bias. "Apparently Mr. Jackson believes that being LGBTQ is a belief. I am letting him know that being who you are is not a belief," she proclaimed.

Chick-fil-A's discriminatory policies do not end with the LGBTQ community. For instance, Frank O'Gorman, who helped organize the demonstration, wrote about a Muslim franchise manager who refused to partake in a group prayer to Jesus and was fired the next day. Mr. O'Gorman has documented the funding of organizations by Chick-fil-A that are listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "hate groups," such as the Family Research Council, which has spent tens of thousands of dollars lobbying the United States Congress not to condemn Uganda's "kill the gays" legislation.

Mr. Frank added, "Chick-fil-A donated over a million dollars to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which has been reported to communicate a strongly anti-LGBTQ message to its athletes and participants, as reported by ThinkProgress."

Even our beloved furry and winged friends are not safe from Chick-fil-A's corporate practices. "Chick-fil-A promotes a system in which chickens are fully grown at 6 weeks old with bones that cannot support their weight. These animals suffer immense pain and live in horrendous conditions. We would never imagine doing this to cats & dogs," decried Tiffany Walker, an investigator with the grassroots animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere.

Various videos circulating the Internet depict the inconceivably inhumane treatment farm factory workers take against the helpless animals, literally grabbing chickens by their feet or wings and flinging them twenty feet or more into cramped cages. The slaughter of animals isn't any better, either, with video of chickens being scalded alive in boiling water just one of the numerous practices routinely employed by such farm factories. According to some reports, Chick-fil-A sources its food supplies from such farm factories.

While Chick-fil-A stated in 2014 that they would no longer purchase meat injected with steroids or antibiotics, and last year proclaimed they would use only cage-free eggs, they have given themselves 5 and 10 years, respectively, to enact such promises. "They do not disclose what percentage of their supplies currently meet their new standards, nor have they made any promises regarding the inhumane and cruel treatment of the animals killed in providing food for its locations," Ms. Walker protested.

Chick-fil-A spokespeople laud their company's commitment to 'dignity' but some question their understanding of that word. "We're not asking people to put aside their religious beliefs but they should at least respect us, which can be demonstrated by publicizing corporate policies that will cultivate a culture free from discrimination," Ms. Lopez said.

Mr. Frank concluded, "If Chick-fil-A truly respected the LGBTQ community, why hasn't it apologized for its past actions?"

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