School board members are urging the Pittsburgh Marathon to drop Chick-fil-A as the lead sponsor for its one-mile children’s race next May because of the restaurant CEO’s years-old comments on same-sex marriage.
In a letter to the marathon’s organizers, all nine council members asked that the funding partnership be canceled, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Traditionally, Pittsburgh Public Schools organize the teams for the kids’ run, but the marathon’s staff will have to come up with another plan if the school board’s resolution, which bars district and school employees from participating in any “official capacity” in the event, passes this week.
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The fuss over the Chick-fil-A sponsorship came as a result of CEO Dan Cathy’s 2012 comments, when he voiced his personal — not professional — opposition to gay marriage.
“We’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,” he said at the time. “And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.”
It should be noted, of course, Chick-fil-A has a strict anti-discrimination policy and hires people of all ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. In 2013, Cathy noted that, while his personal views on marriage remain the same, it would be “the wiser thing” for his fast-food eatery to “stay focused on customer service.”
Nevertheless, the Pittsburgh School Board wants the marathon’s partnership with Chick-fil-A booted over an inaccurate understanding of the franchise’s policies.
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“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.,” Ira Weiss, the school solicitor, said.
City council member Erika Strassburger said the promotion of Chick-fil-A at the children’s race “would be perceived to espouse bigotry and hate.”
“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,” she added.
Faithwire reached out to Chick-fil-A’s press office, but did not hear back by press time. If a representative responds, their statement will be added to this story.