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ABC Highlights Attacks on Chick-fil-A By Gay Rights Groups

After ABC's World News ignored the March for Life pro-life event last week, the January 30 World News Sunday ran a report highlighting complaints by gay rights activists over Chick-fil-A - a family-owned restaurant known for its Christian-based social advocacy - supplying food to a socially conservative group in Pennsylvania that promoted a ban on same-sex marriage in the state that was enacted in 1996.


The piece, by correspondent Steve Osunsami, featured soundbites from four different people who had words of disapproval for Chick-fil-A - including a member of the liberal Human Rights Campaign - but Osunsami did not include soundbites from anyone outside the company to support the restaurant chain.

Anchor Dan Harris framed the issue from the point of view of gay rights activists declaring "enough" as he set up the piece. Harris:



We're going to take a look tonight at a budding controversy that pits a wildly popular fast food chain against the gay community. The owners of Chick-fil-A have proudly built Christian principles into their corporate culture, but when one of its outlets donated food to a group that has worked to block same-sex marriage, gay rights groups said: Enough.



Osunsami began the report by recounting that tensions go back as far as a decade, but that the battle "blew up" after Chick-fil-A decided to provide lunch to the "Art of Marriage" conference in Pennsylvania. Osunsami:



This argument between gay rights groups and Chick-fil-A is more than a decade old, but it blew up last week when the fast food retailer revealed it was providing lunch at a conference called "The Art of Marriage."



Three different unidentified people were shown in soundbites complaining about Chick-fil-A as Osunsami related that "Across the country and online, gay men and women and their families are furious."

Michael Cole-Schwartz of the gay advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign was then shown complaining about restaurant chain's "commitment to equality." Cole-Schwartz: "When they are sponsoring organizations that are seeking to amend state constitutions to ban rights for same-sex couples, then that's when the gay community starts to wonder about their commitment to equality."

Osunsami added: "He says it's more than just a free lunch, it's the company's commitment to supporting the institution of marriage while doing little to advance the issue for gay men and women."

After showing a five-year-old soundbite of company founder Truett Cathy talking about how he closes his restaurants on Sunday's in honor of the Sabbath, the report finally relayed somewhat of an argument in the family's defense, including a soundbite and a quote from company president Dan Cathy denying that he is anti-gay.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the January 30 World News Sunday on ABC:

DAN HARRIS: We're going to take a look tonight at a budding controversy that pits a wildly popular fast food chain against the gay community. The owners of Chick-fil-A have proudly built Christian principles into their corporate culture, but when one of its outlets donated food to a group that has worked to block same-sex marriage, gay rights groups said: Enough. Here is Steve Osunsami.

STEVE OSUNSAMI: This argument between gay rights groups and Chick-fil-A is more than a decade old, but it blew up last week when the fast food retailer revealed it was providing lunch at a conference called "The Art of Marriage."

CLIP OF AD: I think one of the greatest gifts you can really give to the next generation is faithfulness and fidelity in marriage. OSUNSAMI: The group behind the faith-based seminar is the Pennsylvania Family Institute, decidedly opposed to gay marriage and key supporters of Pennsylvania's Defense of Marriage Act which lawmakers approved in 1996.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Keep your social issues and your religious issues out of my chicken nuggets, you know?

OSUNSAMI: Across the country and online, gay men and women and their families are furious.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don't eat there actually because of it.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: I don't think that it's right.

MICHAEL COLE-SCHWARTZ, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: When they are sponsoring organizations that are seeking to amend state constitutions to ban rights for same-sex couples, then that's when the gay community starts to wonder about their commitment to equality.

OSUNSAMI: He says it's more than just a free lunch, it's the company's commitment to supporting the institution of marriage while doing little to advance the issue for gay men and women. Chick-fil-A has a retreat for traditionally married employees and offers them faith-based counseling. The company's founder explained it to us in 2006. He's a traditional man, God-fearing, married for 63 years, and his stores are closed on Sundays.

TRUETT CATHY, FOUNDER OF CHICK-FIL-A: This is your day, Sunday, your day for family.

OSUNSAMI: Chick-fil-A says it's misleading to say that they're anti-gay. Instead, they say they're a family business that serves and values all people.

DAN CATHY, PRESIDENT OF CHICK-FIL-A: Providing food to these events or any event is not an endorsement of the mission, political stance, or motives of this or any other organization.

OSUNSAMI: In yet another statement Saturday, the company's president wrote that, "While my family and I believes in the biblical definition of marriage, we love and respect anyone who disagrees." Steve Osunsami, ABC News, Atlanta.

-Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center