DCist Heralds Chick-fil-A’s Arrival, Then Realizes It Gives To Anti-Gay-Marriage Groups

The Great Chick-fil-A Controversy rages on!

The editor of DCist, a blog covering DC happenings, including food news, heralded the anti-gay fried-chick chain’s arrival in our nation’s capital with a glorious tweet.

Tweeted DCist editor Martin Austermuhle: “Chicken lovers rejoice: a Chick-fil-A food truck is coming to D.C.”

In the blog post, he cheekily notes that the Christian-oriented place will be closed on Sundays but fails to note that Chick-fil-A donates money, from proceeds it earns Monday to Saturday, to causes that actively fight for the disenfranchisement of gay people.

After prominent DC restauranteurs gave Austermuhle a Twitterlashing for heralding the arrival of an anti-gay food chain, he decided to pen a lengthy post on the matter, titled “An Editorial Aside: The Great Chick-Fil-A Controversy of 2012.”

Austermuhle tries to play the victim here: he says he was “surprised” and blindsided by the huge negative reaction, although DCist’s sister blog Gothamist has amply covered the wide-spread hate of the company, labeling Chick-fil-A as “homophobic” in headlines.

He should have known better, especially when he claims to be a “staunch supporter of gay rights and equality.” He does himself one worse when he “throws us a bone,” after getting called out:

As a 10-year D.C. resident and staunch supporter of gay rights and equality, they certainly rub me the wrong way. But that doesn’t mean that Chick-fil-A’s food truck isn’t news—for its food. (Good news or bad? We report, you decide.) Gold may have had a point that more information on the restaurant’s charitable contributions could make people think twice about whether to eat there. That’s why I didn’t shy away from including one of his tweets on the issue in the original post and dedicating the time to exploring the issue further today. So here you have it—Chick-fil-A gives money to conservative groups that have long fought gay rights.

Yes, of course, report the news, but he should’ve known that Chick-fil-A was homophobic in the first place, and included that fact in the original post. He should’ve have needed the tongue-lashing to do so, and his playing the victim now is just an annoying way of showing his ignorance of Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay donations till internet commenters pointed it out to him.

He also tries to downplay the donations. To be clear, Chick-fil-A is also not donating to your run-of-the-mill “conservative groups” who champion issues other than anti-gay-rights causes—they donate to known hate groups like Focus on the Family and Exodus International, whose sole focus is, respectively, fighting gay marriage and pushing ex-gay reparative therapy.

This all gets us to thinking, ourselves. Perhaps the solution to the Great Chick-fil-A Controversy is not just to not patronize Chick-fil-A. Perhaps it’s to tell other corporations, ones that supposedly hail gay rights in their hiring and diversity policies, like Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Ben & Jerry’s, to create charitable organizations similar to the WinShape Foundation—but ones that give in the opposite direction, to groups like the HRC, GLAAD, Freedom to Marry, the Ali Forney Center, and state-level marriage-equality advocacy orgs.

That way the arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice, with a little helping pull from money and corporate clout.

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  • Over the River

    Boy do you have your story wrong. Mr. Austermuhle simply followed-up on previous articles about the availability of this vendor’s food. We don’t get our undies bunched up very often and we believe each consumer has the right to make decisions about his or her purchases. One might think Washington, DC suffers from GroupThink, but that really isn’t the case. We believe in individual choice and individual responsibility. When we made a decision we select what criteria matters and then act according. Because of this individual freedom, we don’t tell people what to think or how to act. Martin is my friend and I know Martin’s support of gay civil rights, and for you to imply otherwise, totally misrepresents how many of us feel, and how many of us support these rights. An old saying goes “don’t fight your friends, you may need them to fight your enemies”. Martin is well aware of the charitable efforts put forth by those who represent the interests of this company. There are a lot of very good causes and efforts in this country and gay civil rights is just one of them. You don’t own the only cause worth fighting for and your interests aren’t the only ones that need be addressed in what was a simple article about the growing foot-truck industry in Washington, DC.

  • Blah

    Perhaps the solution is to let reporters write their stories and not dictate what should and shouldn’t be covered. Trying to intimidate a local blog to get favorable news coverage is very Soviet of you.

  • Mikel D McGrew

    It may well be that his addiction to fried fast food has damaged his brain cells to the point where he has been unaware of the controversy that has raged regarding this chain restaurant. Or perhsps he does not really care. I suggest a boycott of him and DCist. He is one “friend” we don’t need.

  • Heh

    @Over the River: There are a lot of very good causes and efforts in this country and gay civil rights is just one of them.

    Yeah, we don’t want to let gay civil rights get ahead of the more important civil right to easy availability of dry, processed, high-sodium breaded chicken product slathered in mayonnaise. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • PedanticMFr

    Martin neither “played the victim” nor tried to “downplay the donations”. Now, I’ll grant you whether he played the victim or not may come down to one’s personal opinion, but to allege he downplayed donations is downright inflammatory. In fact, commentor’s doing such downplaying were debated in the ensuing comment threads. You flat-out read what you wanted to read and do a disservice to your own cause. All you’ve accomplished is displaying a vast amount of ignorance concerning Mr. Austermuhle and your own knee-jerk reaction has clouded your estimation of who is and isn’t your opposition. Such over-the-top reactions only work to fuel your opponents. In short, you’re not helping. The original Food Truck post was as much a legitimate news item as the many such prior food related posts. If you disagree with some wording in said posts, join the fray with the commentariat. Until then: Calm your life down. And for the record, I vehemently disagree with Chick-fil-a’s politics to the point I hope karmic retribution leads to their bankruptcy.

  • modestproposal1

    Oh for the love of [insert preferred deity here]. I’ve met Martin on several occasions, even acted as his photographer covering (in very non-glowing terms) a last-ditch effort that NOM pulled in DC to stave off marriage equality in DC. He’s on our side. He didn’t know about CFA’s donating habits. A lot of the breeders don’t, believe it or not, given its relative lack of coverage outside of the LGBT blogosphere. He’s a good guy, just didn’t know that it was a touchy subject. Save the internet gallows for someone who actually deserves it.

  • In Masonic Shadows

    I’ll reiterate what other members of the DCist commentariat have said here about this hatchet job of a report: you’re barking up the wrong tree. Austermuhle’s ignorance of the Chick-fil-A’s political stance was genuine. Please reserve your umbrage for actual opponents rather than misguided allies.

  • oldgayvermonter

    Please note that Chick-fil-A is also harassing a one man business here in Vermont. It seems that the slogan “Eat More Kale” would be confusing to someone who sees the CFA “Eat mor chikin” logo. Like kale could ever be mistaken for processed industrial chicken-like products! See “Protect Eat More Kale” on Facebook FMI.

  • mommyworks

    The WP, NBC4, CP, etc. all covered the announcement of the truck without the civil rights angle why aren’t they called out too? The commonality is that all people eat food and that was the news.

    It is not implicit in Martin’s or anyone else’s general news blog job to inform the public of Gay Rights issues that are secondary to the announcement of a new food truck. That is for organizations like the Human Rights Campaign or I don’t know perhaps this blog and others like it. If the LGBT community is ineffective in getting its message out regarding CFA to the general public of whom the majority do support same sex marriage then boo hoo.

    DCist and Martin in particular have a pretty clear history of supporting LGBT rights and causes. How many members of the LGBT community eat and spend their money at Chick-fil-A? Clean house before targeting a friend of the cause. Your attack on his integrity is uncalled for and myopic to say the least. Rather than attacking him put your efforts into educating the General Public and asking him and the DCist folks to look into this in a meaningful way.

  • jmtpdc

    get over yourself. every company makes some sort of political donations. and besides delicious chicken sandwiches and waffle fries win over gay marriage any day

  • DCUnionGuy

    Martin is in no way a homophobe or bigot. Why you and GLAA are manufacturing this controversy is beyond me. In what way does it benefit the LGBT community to attack an ally? In the future, try engaging w/ the DCist staff, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • Over the River

    @Heh: Which was not the point of my comment. What I am saying is gay civil rights are important, but so is environmental damage, sex slavery, cancer and aids research, and thousands of others. The backlash was only related to something important to you and other readers of this blog. One would think after seeing every one rise up in anger, you are only concerned about this topic. You totally missed my point.

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