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Chick-fil-A Franchisee has Unique Perspective on Anti-Gay Statements

Written By Scott Joseph On July 30, 2012

{jcomments on}For the record, the man would not say that he is gay, but he did say that he and his partner have been together for “a long time.” They are both listed as owners of a one-bedroom condominium in Orlando. But only one is listed as the franchised restaurant operator of a local Chick-fil-A. 

Among members of the gay community, their names are known. And in light of the recent controversy involving statements made by the president of the Chick-fil-A company regarding gay marriage — and the revelation that the company has donated millions of dollars to groups that champion anti-gay initiatives — the local gay community is again whispering about the incongruity of a gay-owned Chick-fil-A franchise.

Tom Dyer, an Orlando attorney and publisher of Watermark, a respected gay publication, said that it’s “a well-known fact” that a local Chick-fil-A has a gay owner. He said that the editors of Watermark have been contacted by several readers asking that the publication write about it.

I reached the franchise owner by phone at his restaurant just as lunchtime was kicking in. I told him I was interested in his comments about the issue because he has a unique perspective. “I sure do,” he replied, adding, almost as though he had rehearsed the line in anticipation of the call, “We’re just in the business to sell chicken sandwiches.”

And how does he rationalize doing business with a company that is so anti gay? “We just don’t talk about it,” he said. He told me that he has been associated with Chick-fil-A for 36 years, and he’s been in his current location for 13 years. “We’ve never had a problem,” he said. “This whole deal is not the belief companywide,” he added. He also said that he has not seen any backlash or protests at his restaurant.

That has not been the case with other Chick-fil-A locations. The mayor of Boston has told the company that he will not allow any of the chicken outlets in that city. And Jim Henson’s Muppets abruptly ended a promotion with Chick-fil-A that provided customizable puppets with children’s meals. Actor Ed Helms tweeted to his followers that he will no longer eat at Chick-fi-A, but others, notably Christian pundit Mike Huckabee and former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, have voiced their support for the company.

Dyer told me that he wouldn’t expect the local owner to sever his ties with the company on principle. “He has a right to make a living,” he said. But he added that he would hope the man would “stand up in the company” to try to bring about change.

I asked the Central Florida franchisee if he personally knew of any other gay owners in the Chick-fi-A  ranks. He paused. “I’m not saying that I am [gay].”

“But you know that the gay community is talking about you, don’t you?” I asked. “And that they mention you by name?” He had only one reply: “We’re just in business to sell chicken.”

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