A day after a Chicago official said Chick-fil-A would stop giving money to anti-gay marriage groups, the fast-food chain issued a statement saying that "for many months now" its corporate donations have "been mischaracterized."
In the statement, the Atlanta-based company said that while its "sincere intent has been to remain out of this political and social debate," it keeps getting dragged back in.
On Wednesday, Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno said in a statement that after months of negotiations, Chick-fil-A executives agreed to stop funding organizations opposed to same-sex marriage. Moreno also said the company amended a corporate document to promise to "treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender."
In return, the alderman said he would support Chick-fil-A's plans to build a restaurant in his trendy Windy City neighborhood.
The chain has more than 1,600 restaurants and says it adheres to Christian principles. Chick-fil-A stores across the country shut down on Sundays.
In its statement Thursday, Chick-fil-A wrote:
"A part of our corporate commitment is to be responsible stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. Because of this commitment, 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."
In the last three years, that includes more than $68 million in donations to more than 700 educational and charitable organizations and millions of dollars in food gifts, according to the company.
Whether that excludes organizations such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage, which urge against gay unions, remains unclear.
A report from LGBT advocacy group Equality Matters found that from 2003 to 2009, Chick-fil-A donated more than $3 million to Christian groups that oppose homosexuality. In 2010, the fast-food company gave nearly $2 million to such causes, according to the report.
Such accusations, as well as Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's recent comments about supporting the biblical definition of the family unit, helped spur a summer of controversy from gay marriage supporters and opponents.