The Urban League of Greater Atlanta honored Dan Cathy, anti-gay CEO of the Atlanta-based company Chick-fil-A, at its Saturday night Equal Opportunity Day Dinner and Gala.
Cathy was presented with the Community Empowerment Award for his “significant financial contributions that support programs that empower communities,” LGBTQ Nation reported.
The CEO has donated significant amounts of money to anti-gay groups and made his disapproval of same-sex marriage well known, stating that the nation is “inviting God’s judgment” by allowing it and tweeting that the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act was a “sad day for our nation,” Advocate.com reported.
The decision to honor Cathy prompted questions and criticism from LGBT groups and supporters.
“So the question on many Atlanta minds right now is surely: Why is Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy receiving this award?” the Atlanta-based LGBT publication Fenuxe wrote. “Dan T. Cathy is not a ‘Champion of Justice and Equality.’ Yes, Cathy tried to fix his PR nightmare, but compared to Congressman John Lewis who lives and breathes civil rights, Dan Cathy’s work on justice and equality wanes and withers in comparison.”
The Urban League of Greater Atlanta, which focuses on the economic empowerment of African Americans, responded to criticism in a statement enumerating Chick-fil-A’s “significant contributions to advance community empowerment,” which include investing in the Junior Achievement’s Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center to improve youth financial literacy, as well as contributing to local food banks, community centers, youth and education programs, and Wellspring Living, an organization for victims of sexual abuse.
The Urban League concluded: “Please be assured that the Urban League of Greater Atlanta supports and works for equal rights for all people, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or physical ability. This includes the recent Employment Non-Discrimination Act that was passed out of the US Senate this week.”
Other honorees of the evening included Congressman John Lewis and the attorneys for Trayvon Martin’s family.