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University of California, Santa Barbara students and other members of the community demonstrated outside of the new Chick-Fil-A in Santa Barbara to protest the company’s stance on the LGBTQ community and its use of company profits to fund anti-gay groups. The protest, titled A Queer Kiss-In at Chick-Fil-A, planned to have gay and lesbian couples kiss outside the restaurant to protest the company’s policies.
Zach King, a sociology graduate student at UCSB, said the policies of Chick-Fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy, did not coincide with LGBTQ values.
“Chick-Fil-A’s a pretty messed up organization when you look at what the CEO has said and where they put their money,” said King. “The CEO has said they will fire anyone who does not conform to the Bible’s moral code so that means that they would fire any gay or gender non-conforming employee which is a violation of human rights. They also donate money to conservative groups and think tanks including groups that are working in parts of Africa on campaigns that actually encourage the execution of people for being gay.”
Community members besides UCSB students were present at the protest including SB High School and SB Community College students. SBHS student Olivia Ranson said she chose to join the protest because it is not an issue only related to university students.
“I came here because I’m queer and we just wanted to show that we don’t support Chick-Fil-A being anti-LGBT and just to make a statement and raise awareness about Chick-Fil-A’s anti-gay donations,” said Ranson.
Carol Ruiz, owner of the Chick-Fil-A Santa Barbara branch, said she supports the protesters’ right to protest, but said they needed to do so off of the Chick-Fil-A premises.
“I think anyone is allowed to protest on private property,” said Ruiz. “But when they bring it into the restaurant like this it’s not…We welcome everyone here and so to make it look like we don’t welcome anyone to come to our restaurant. Everyone should be able to enjoy their meal. I think they should protest on the sidewalk, not in a public dining area with children and people trying to enjoy their meal.”
Ophelia, a SBCC Cultural Anthropology major who did not wish to state her last name, said by donating to anti-gay groups, Chick-Fil-A is setting a dangerous precedent.
“If every company did that,” said Ophelia, “eventually know one is going to have rights and nobody’s going to be able to do anything so it’s important even if you don’t support gay rights or equal rights to understand that this is a human issue not just a gay rights, queer rights issue.”
Ruiz said she doesn’t understand the protests in light of the new information released by Chick-Fil-A’s CEO Dan Cathy.
“We had the leader,” said Ruiz, “of the Campus Pride gay group reach out to Dan Cathy last month and he turned over the company’s tax returns and said that no money went to hate groups. So the continuing target of Chick-Fil-A, we just don’t quite understand it, to be honest with you. It’s right there on our website.”
Campus Pride, the LGTBQ support organization that focuses on university and college students which originally started the campaign against Chick-Fil-A last summer, recently released a statement calling off the campaign against the company.
This past week,” said Shan L Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, “Chick-fil-A shared with me the 2011 IRS Form 990, filed in November for the WinShape Foundation, along with 2012 financials…The nearly $6 million in outside grant funding focuses on youth, education, marriage enrichment, and local communities. The funding reflects Chick-fil-A’s promised commitment not to engage in ‘political or social debates,’ and the most divisive, anti-LGBT groups are no longer listed.”
Other members of the protest had no comment on the statement.
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