Members of the city council and school board in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are demanding that the organizers of the Pittsburgh Marathon drop Chick-fil-A as the top sponsor of their children’s event.
If organizers of the children’s marathon do not scrap the pro-family restaurant chain as sponsors, the school board and city council threaten that major consequences will result.
“Unless marathon organizers boot the fast-food chain, a proposed resolution due before the Pittsburgh Public Schools board would ban district employees and schools from participating in ‘an official capacity’ in the one-mile Kids Marathon held the day before the main race in May,” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. “Meanwhile, all nine council members signed a letter asking the marathon to nix the funding deal, [and] their correspondence went to the P3R nonprofit – which manages the race events – just as its board was due to discuss the sponsorship Thursday afternoon [in a meeting closed to the public].”
What’s the hang-up?
The controversy revolves around comments made by Dan T. Cathy – the son of Chick-fil-A’s founder – regarding his biblical views on same-sex marriage. Qualms were also brought up about donations made by America’s favorite fast food chain to conservative pro-family foundations.
"They have several beliefs, which they've expressed officially – largely through religious basis – that are quite discriminatory and are quite inconsistent with the district's policies regarding discrimination on the basis of gender, race, etc.," Pittsburgh school solicitor Ira Weiss contended at the meeting, according to the Post-Gazette.
Weiss and school administrators were informed about the matter by Pittsburgh school board members Lynda Wrenn, Moira Kaleida and Terry Kennedy – who allegedly shared concerns given by constituents – and a conclusion is slated for next week.(Pittsburgh City Council)
“The board is set to vote next week on the resolution, which would withhold district support from the children's event – as long as Chick-fil-A is a sponsor,” the Post-Gazette’s Elizabeth Behrman and Adam Smeltz announced. “The move follows an online petition this month urging North Side-based P3R to sever the financial relationship.”
The petition has accrued more than 1,200 signatures and alleges that the Christian fast food giant famous for its chicken sandwiches promotes fear and hate against the LGBT community by being open about its biblical take on human sexuality.
“It is not possible to create a community event that is safe and affirming for western Pennsylvanians – especially our young people – if you take money from a company that works to eradicate LGBTQ persons' very right to exist,” the online petition posted by The Action Network opens up. “Children should not be asked to run under the banner of a company that believes their sexual orientation and gender identity is something that can be cured or healed, [and] children should not have to support corporate bodies who want to erase them or their family members.”
It then calls on local schools to band against Chick-fil-A for not being on board with the pro-LGBT agenda.
“Districts with LGBTQ-inclusive policies should not be asked to allow programs funded by anti-gay corporations into their school communities,” the petition continues. “Chick-fil-A is an openly homophobic and transphobic business. The Pittsburgh Marathon has the discretion to NOT partner with such businesses – especially on projects working with children.”
The petition closes with a call for marathon officials to scrap Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship – under the guise of promoting so-called “civil rights” and “equal rights.”
“It is of paramount importance that we reject attempts such as this to normalize homophobia and transphobia for our children,” the petition concludes. “This partnership is unacceptable and the Pittsburgh Marathon must reject it.”
Chick-fil-A, which has diligently tried to stay out of political controversies waged by the left, did not immediately respond to the latest backlash, but has continually stressed over the years that its restaurants focus on service and hospitality “for all” – and not political or social agendas.
Include LGBT, exclude Christian company
Pittsburgh City Council member Erika Strassburger – who circulated the letter signed by fellow council members –claimed that retaining Chick-fil-A as a sponsor would color the city as a community of haters.
“[The brand name] would be perceived to espouse bigotry and hate," Strassburger contended, according to the Pittsburgh daily. "This is really about the children and about sending the message to the children of Pittsburgh, and really to everyone, that Pittsburgh – as far as city council is concerned – is welcoming and inclusive for everyone.”
The LGBT advocate met with Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus and Pittsburgh Marathon Director Patrice Matamoros last week and insisted that the discourse was productive … noting that the event “did not have malicious intent [and promotes inclusiveness].”
Some problems with a decision to axe Chick-fil-A as a sponsor were mentioned in the conversations.
“Kevin Carter – a school board member – said he was eager to review his board's resolution,” Behrman and Smeltz noted. “He wants to avoid a ‘slippery slope’ that could force board members to object any time an event sponsor differs ideologically from the school district.”
However, Wrenn insisted that her “anti-discrimination” ideology would apply to all future sponsors.
"If another organization does come forward that does not embrace all of our students, I would feel the same way, and that this resolution be applied to that as well,” Wrenn insisted, according to the Pennsylvania paper.
She was not alone in her resolve to banish Chick-fil-A, as Pittsburgh School Board President Regina Holley and Kaleida both declared their support for the school board’s resolution, as well, which would effectively trash the marathon’s three-year agreement with the Christian company.
“Marathon organizers announced a three-year deal with Chick-fil-A on Sept. 27,” Behrman and Smeltz informed. “The Atlanta-based restaurant famous for fried chicken and biscuits will be the title sponsor of the Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh Kids Marathon, as well as a sponsor of the Kids of STEEL physical activity and nutrition program [if the resolution against it does not pass].”
A spokeswoman for P3R insisted that its relationship with Chick-fil-A embraces the entire community of Pittsburgh.
“P3R is deeply passionate about and committed to promoting a love of running, health and fitness in the Pittsburgh region,” the nonprofit organization declared in a statement, according to the Post-Gazette. “Our intent with this partnership, along with all of our partnerships, is to further expand all of our events and programming – including the Pittsburgh Kids Marathon and Kids of STEEL, [and] this partnership with Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh will help us ensure even more children in southwestern Pennsylvania can learn and share in our love of running.”
Not again …
The backlash to Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship is nothing new in Pittsburgh, as local LGBT activists there have had a history of pushing the city to prevent anyone from opposing their “inclusive” agenda – which appears to include everyone except Bible-believing Christians.
“Earlier this year, LGBT groups demanded that Turahn Jenkins – a Democrat running for district attorney in Allegheny County, which surrounds Pittsburgh – end his campaign due to his affiliation with a church that teaches the traditional Christian view of marriage and sexual ethics,” The Christian Post (CP) recounted. “Jenkins had reportedly said, ‘Yes,’ when he was asked by local activists if he believed being gay or transgender was sinful, and compared them to adultery.”
The LGBT activists were successful in turning the Pittsburgh suburb against the conservative Christian for his biblical take on social issues.
“Although his candidacy was initially welcomed, many soured on him upon discovering that he attended The Bible Chapel in Wilkinsburg – an evangelical congregation that had content and sermons describing homosexual practice as ‘not God's design’ posted on its website,” CP’s Brandon Showalter explained.