McDonald’s: Did McD’s Cave to Anti-Gay Group’s Boycott?

gaymcD (FranchisePick.Com)  Back in July of this year, FranchisePick.com reported (Is McDonald’s Funding a “naked homosex-fest”?) how a conservative Christian group called the American Family Association (AFA) was leading a boycott of McDonald’s in protest of the fast food giant’s relationship with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

The American Family Association had been calling for Richard Ellis, McDonald’s vice president of U.S. communications, to resign from the board of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and for McDonald’s to drop its membership and cease financial support for the NGLCC. McDonald’s provided $20,000 to be one of the corporate sponsors of the chamber’s annual fundraising gala.

The group led a boycott of McDonald’s, circulated a petition, held a press conference at McDonald’s headquarters, and maintained the BoycottMcDonalds.com website.  The website claims that McDonald’s corporate employees attended seminars teaching them how to advance the homosexual lifestyle:

The conference, held in Austin, TX, was designed to train employees how to effectively advance homosexuality in the workplace and to persuade top corporate officials to embrace the lifestyle by offering special recognition and benefits to gay employees.

The AFA site also objected to the McDonald’s employee health benefits package, which it claims “includes full coverage for sex-change procedures, post-operative recovery, and mental health counseling throughout the process.”

McDonald’s has apparently caved in to most of this group’s demands.  The Chicago Tribune reports that Richard Ellis has been reassigned to Siberia Canada, that he has resigned from the board of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and that McDonald’s will not renew it’s membership in the organization that it claims it wasn’t a member of, anyway.

On its protest website, the American Family Association has declared victory:

Great news! Because of AFA supporters like you, McDonald’s has told AFA it will remain neutral in the culture war regarding homosexual marriage. AFA is ending the boycott of McDonald’s. As you know, AFA called for the boycott in May after McDonald’s joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

McDonald’s said it’s Vice President, Richard Ellis, has resigned his position on the board of directors of NGLCC and his seat on the board will not be replaced. McDonald’s also said that the company has no plans to renew it’s membership in NGLCC when it expires in December.

In an e-mail to McDonald’s franchised owners, the company said, “It is our policy to not be involved in political and social issues. McDonald’s remains neutral on same sex marriage or any ‘homosexual agenda’ as defined by the American Family Association.”

We appreciate the decision by McDonald’s to no longer support political activity by homosexual activist organizations. You might want to thank your local McDonald’s manager.

How Strong IS McDonald’s Commitment to Diversity?

In the Tribune article, McDonald’s officials claim that Ellis’ involvement in and subsequent divorce from the NGLCC were personal – and not corporate – activities… indicating that McDonald’s bold reaction to the controversy – in a nutshell – is to wimp out.

While the judgement of a Public Relations VP whose actions prompt a national boycott could certainly be called into question (his job, after all, is to quell, not attract or incite, potential boycotts), McDonald’s tepid reaction and unwillingness to back up a senior executive results in the worst of both worlds.

The conservative Christians are emboldened, even stronger in their belief that McDonald’s is an amoral but tameable behemoth that they can manipulate through the media.  My guess is that they will be maintaining the BoycottMcDonalds.com domain for future use.

The once-encouraged gay McDonald’s employees and customers feel sold-out once again.

And the McDonald’s heavily promoted commitment to diversity seems to ring a bit hollow.

After all, how strong is a commitment to diversity if it only exists until someone complains?

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