PITTSBURGH, Pa. — All nine members of Pittsburgh City Council have signed an opposing letter to the leaders of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon after learning that the fast food chain Chick-fil-A will be the title sponsor for next year’s children’s marathon.
The letter argues that “[t]he leadership of Chick-fil-A has openly and passionately promulgated hateful beliefs against the LGBTQIA+ community,” and that it has financed organizations that oppose same-sex “marriage” and homosexual behavior in general.
“Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of an event designed to encourage healthy living represents a significant setback for Pittsburgh as we continue our work to build a more progressive and welcoming city for all people regardless of who they are or who they love,” the letter, dated October 17, reads.
“Most importantly, its sponsorship sends the wrong message to LBGTQIA+ children and families who face psychological abuse and experience the effects of bullying at disproportionate rates,” it outlines.
Read the letter from the Pittsburgh City Council in full here.
The “Kids Marathon” event, to be held next May, is a one mile run that is held in conjunction with the Kids of STEEL effort, which according to the marathon website, is “a physical activity and nutrition program designed to motivate children to pursue quality nutrition and an active lifestyle by incorporating exercise and healthy eating habits into their daily routine.”
Area schools and youth programs can participate in the Kids of STEEL offerings free of charge.
However, in addition to the Pittsburgh City Council’s opposition to Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of the marathon, the local school district also unanimously voted on Wednesday to approve a resolution against the sponsorship.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the resolution prohibits any district employee from participating in the event on an official basis (yet not a personal basis), as well as promoting the marathon in school.
“The family-owned, privately held restaurant company has expressed views contrary to and in conflict with the district’s non-discrimination policies,” it also states.
The Three Rivers Marathon told the outlet in a statement that it welcomes any organization that wants to partner with the group’s goal of helping children lead healthy lives.
“Every year through our Kids’ Marathon, P3R commits itself to encouraging kids to live healthy lives. This is a cause we’re always going to support, and we’ll always welcome anyone or any organization willing to join us in helping the kids of Pittsburgh discover the joy of running,” it said.
Chick-fil-A has signed on to be the title sponsor of both the marathon and the Kids of STEEL program for the next three years.
As previously reported, the controversy over Chick-fil-A began in 2012 when owner Dan Cathy told Baptist Press that he is “very much supporting of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit.”
“We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives,” he said. “We give God thanks for that.”
According to the Washington Post, Cathy had also stated on a radio broadcast that he believed that the promotion of homosexual “marriage” was evoking the wrath of God upon America.
Following initial uproar about the matter, including assertions that the company donates to organizations that oppose same-sex “marriage,” Chick-fil-A issued a statement outlining that it had never sought to donate to groups that speak against homosexuality, and that “[g]oing forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
In a document entitled “Who We Are,” the company also noted that “[t]here are many diverse viewpoints and opinions among those associated with Chick-fil-A,” and that “[i]f someone in Chick-fil-A offers a personal viewpoint, they do not presume to speak for everyone.”
The company also outlined its donor practices, noting that its charitable outreaches are focused in three areas: “Creating educational opportunities for our team members and youth across America,” “Food donations for those serving or those in need,” and “Developing youth and family/marriage enrichment programs and supporting our communities.”
“For many months now, Chick-fil-A’s corporate giving has been mischaracterized,” it stated, referring to the hostility it has received from pro-homosexual groups that have rejected the fast food restaurant by claiming that it gives donations to organizations that oppose same-sex “marriage.”
“Chick-fil-A’s giving heritage is focused on programs that educate youth, strengthen families and enrich marriages, and support communities. We will continue to focus our giving in those areas. … Our intent is not to support political or social agendas,” Chick-fil-A further clarified, noting that the company’s giving has always been focused on positive charities and outreaches, but not necessarily any particular social issue, such as homosexuality.