Emory alumni still want Chick-fil-a kicked off cam­pus.

Na­tional gay leader’s friend­ship with Dan Cathy not enough to end ef­forts

GA Voice - - News - By Laura Dou­glas-brown lbrown@the­gavoice.com

LGBT alumni and stu­dents as At­lanta’s Emory Univer­sity won’t back down from their call to kick Chick-fil-A out of cam­pus din­ing, de­spite a na­tional gay ac­tivist’s rev­e­la­tion that he has formed a friend­ship with Chick-fil-A Pres­i­dent Dan Cathy.

Shane Wind­meyer, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of na­tional group Cam­pus Pride, drew head­lines with his Jan. 28 col­umn posted on Huff­in­g­ton Post, “Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A.”

Wind­meyer wrote that “af­ter months of per­sonal phone calls, text mes­sages and in-per­son meet­ings,” in­clud­ing at­tend­ing the Chick-fil-A bowl with Cathy on New Year’s Eve in At­lanta, he now con­sid­ers Cathy a friend.

The per­sonal re­la­tion­ship, which be­gan when Cathy called Wind­meyer in Au­gust, is what prompted Cam­pus Pride to sus­pend its “5 Sim­ple Facts about Chick-fil-A” na­tional col­lege cam­paign last fall, Wind­meyer ex­plained.

Af­ter re­view­ing Chick-fil-A’s 2011 IRS Form 990 and 2012 fi­nan­cials, which have not been re­leased pub­licly, Wind­meyer said he also be­lieves the or­ga­ni­za­tion no longer gives funds to “the most di­vi­sive anti-LGBT groups.”

But Wind­meyer’s word is not enough to con­vince Emory’s LGBT alumni group, GALA, to with­draw their de­mand that the cam­pus sever ties to the At­lanta-based chicken chain.

“We be­lieve that the ‘Dan and Me’ ar­ti­cle by Shane Wind­meyer of Cam­pus Pride, does not change the fund­ing is­sue. Win­shape con­tin­ues to fund anti-LGBT or­ga­ni­za­tions, al­beit, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Wind­meyer, less evil ones,” GALA’s steer­ing com­mit­tee wrote in a state­ment to GA Voice.

“Emory GALA con­tin­ues to stand be­hind our pre­vi­ous state­ments and un­til Chick-fil-A and Win­shape re­lease a state­ment that they will no longer fund any anti-LGBT or­ga­ni­za­tions, we will con­tinue to push for and sup­port the re­moval of Chick-fil-A from Emory Univer­sity’s cam­pus,” the group stated.

The ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of Emory Pride, a stu­dent LGBT group, agreed.

Emory Pride lead­ers said Wind­meyer and Cathy were “very brave” to en­gage in di­a­logue, and they are “heart­ened” that the com­pany did not give to the most egre­giously anti-gay groups.

How­ever, “Chick-Fil-A has al­ready be­come a sym­bol of hate that causes ac­tive harm, and this sym­bolic mean­ing will not dis­ap­pear be- cause of one man be­com­ing friends with an­other,” the stu­dents said.

“We, as the Emory Pride Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee, will not cease our cam­paign against Chick-Fil-A un­til all traces of ho­mo­pho­bia are gone from it and all those who work for it and all those who pa­tron­ize it.”

Emory won’t ask Chick-fil-A to leave

Af­ter con­tro­versy over Chick-fil-A heated up last sum­mer, GALA sent a let­ter Aug. 23 to Emory Pres­i­dent James Wag­ner rais­ing con­cerns about the com­pany’s mil­lions in do­na­tions to groups that op­pose LGBT rights.

In Oc­to­ber, lead­ers from seven stu­dent LGBT groups sent a let­ter to Emory ad­min­is­tra­tors de­cry­ing the on­go­ing pres­ence of Chick-fil-A.

Emory’s Stu­dent Government As­so­ci­a­tion also passed a res­o­lu­tion in early De­cem­ber urg­ing Emory to re­con­sider Chick-fil-A as a cam­pus ven­dor, and LGBT rights sup­port­ers have protested the cam­pus restau­rant, lo­cated in the Cox Hall food court.

The Emory Univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued a state­ment Dec. 17 that Cathy’s stands don’t re­flect Emory’s val­ues on LGBT is­sues, but Emory also val­ues “open ex­pres­sion” and would not force Chick-fil-A to leave.

Con­cerns and con­ver­sa­tions

Emory’s Of­fice of LGBT Life, which is part of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, sup­ports the of­fi­cial state­ment of the univer­sity on Chick-fil-A, ac­cord­ing to Michael Shutt, di­rec­tor of the of­fice.

Asked his re­ac­tion to Wind­meyer’s col­umn, Shutt de­clined in the name of LGBT unity.

“Although there are many con­cerns that come up for me, it is crit­i­cal that we do not spend our time tear­ing down lead­ers in this move­ment.

“If we have con­cerns, we should have con­ver­sa­tions within our com­mu­nity, not in pub­lic,” he said. “Those who work against our lib­er­a­tion will stand by and watch while we fight each other and de­stroy our own move­ment.”

Cam­pus Pride Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Shane Wind­meyer posted this photo of him with Chick-fil-A Pres­i­dent Dan Cathy (right) at the Chick-fil-A Bowl to il­lus­trate their friend­ship. (Photo via Huff­in­g­ton Post; posted by Wind­meyer on Twit­ter)

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