Philadelphia Union

This pride flag is a now regular feature in The River End of PPL Park, thanks to the Sons of Ben.

The banner at the top of the Philadelphia Union website asks, “What do you stand for?” After seeing the club announce a Chick-Fil-A giveaway night this season, it’s a question I have for them.

I have been a Union fan since season one and a Sons of Ben member since season two. When I saw this news from the team I loved this morning, it hit me like an arrow to the heart. It hurt.

Donations from Chick-Fil-A’s charitable foundation to anti-LGBT groups is well documented, and became quite well known last year. Millions were given in 2010, including to an organization identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and to Exodus International, a psychologically damaging “pray the gay away” ministry.

Do I expect every MLS club to check the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index every time they enter into a partnership with a business? Of course not. But the troubling donations by Chick-Fil-A and subsequent backlash were headline news last year with people both protesting and supporting the chain. The Union should have easily known that they are a hot button that isn’t worth pressing.

The Chick-Fil-A story continued with news last month that gay activist Shane Windmeyer had become friends with CEO Dan Cathy and that they ended the funding given to several groups according to IRS documents he was allowed to see. His Huffington Post piece was picked up by several news outlets, but when pressed he admitted to The Advocate that Chick-Fil-A’s charitable wing only ended donations to the most vile groups. These gifts only account for about one percent of their giving to anti-gay organizations and millions continue to flow to other groups.

ThinkProgress writer Zach Ford notes:

Chick-fil-A is not ending the bulk of its anti-gay giving. Chick-fil-A is not implementing any LGBT-inclusive policies like nondiscrimination protections, of which it has none. And Dan Cathy is not apologizing for his vitriolic comments — in fact, he’s making no public comments of his own whatsoever. In other words, the company is doing nothing to improve its atrocious record on LGBT issues.

After all of this, the Philadelphia Union chose to partner with them for a stadium promotional night. This is a team who has publicly declared themselves to be an ally of the LGBT community, and they’re inviting a company that brings so much hurt to our community to a game.

Chick-Fil-A franchises across the country became the sites of protests last summer.

It should be noted that while they are holding this promotion four days prior to Philadelphia’s Pride Festival and Parade, there is no LGBT Pride Night–which has been done by several other clubs–on their promotional calendar. Having a night to celebrate Pride would encourage more fans to attend a midweek game than a free stuffed cow toy or chicken sandwich coupon.

So it’s time for the Philadelphia Union to set things right, and soon. Do what so many of my friends and allies like yourselves have done and say “no” to Chick-Fil-A. As quite possibly your most devoted fan who lives 1600 miles from Chester, I’m looking to you to do the right thing and ditch your Chick-Fil-A promotional night.

(On a final personal note, thank you to all my friends and fellow Union fans who have already spoken out in objection of this promotional night. Love ya lots.)

Update: The Union provided a statement on the giveaway to Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com:

Philadelphia Union does not support the views expressed by certain individuals within the Chick-Fil-A organization. We always have and always will be fully supportive of all people and all walks of life. Our brand stands for inclusiveness and unity regardless of race, ethnic origin, religious or personal beliefs. We believe that everyone has the right to choose what is best for them.

 

 

We plan on continuing with the night. Our partnership is with the local ownership group and is in support of families – all families, without definition or discrimination.

They indicated to Tannenwald that a Pride Night would happen at some point without giving any specifics.

Beyond that good news, their statement is shortsighted to say the least. At issue aren’t the beliefs of anyone in the company; what matters is how those beliefs are put into practice at the corporate level and with corporate dollars. And Chick-Fil-A’s charitable wing gives money to groups that actively work against gay rights and actively discriminate against gay people.

The Union’s promotion helps Chick-Fil-A get more customers who will spend money on chicken sandwiches, some of which will go to such groups.

The fact that their statement doesn’t even address LGBT issues at all, instead saying “personal beliefs,” is immensely frustrating to see. It hurts to see a group that considers themselves allies appearing to be afraid to even say the words gay or lesbian. Being gay isn’t a personal belief. Being a bigot like Dan Cathy of Chick-Fil-A is. And choosing to put your corporate dollars toward anti-gay causes is.

Do the right thing, Philadelphia Union. You can do better than this.

As your website says: WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR?