Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Letters Regarding "Controversial Chick-fil-A CEO set to speak to Prince William chamber"

The following is a series of emails between The Rev. Stuart Schadt of Trinity Episcopal Church, Manassas and Robert H. Clapper, II, President & CEO of The Prince William Chamber of Commerce regarding "Controversial Chick-fil-A CEO set to speak to Prince William chamber."

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On Jul 19, 2012, at 3:11 PM, "Stuart Schadt" wrote:
Dear Chamber Officers and Board Members,

I know many of you personally and even more by your reputation or the reputation of your business. I have understood that one of the goals of our community has been to attract first class businesses to Prince William County. That is why I was surprised at the announcement of Dan Cathy as a major chamber program. Mr. Cathy like all of us is welcome to his personal views but in recent interviews he has made it clear that there is no separation between his personal views and corporate funds when he is supporting groups opposed to Gay and Lesbian rights. Simply google his name and articles just released will come up.

The majority of fortune five hundred companies grant rights to same sex partners and in other ways support the rights of all their employees. Eight out of the top ten fortune five hundred companies grant same sex partners benefits. Gay and Lesbian members now serve openly in our military here in Prince William county and throughout the world. Families headed by same sex couples are present through out our community. I am certain there are gay and lesbian business owners who are members of the chamber. 

The following is a list of corporate sponsors who support the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for LGBT rights.
Ceasars Entertainment, Chevron, Google , MGM Resorts, Nike, Chase, Cox Enterprises, Cunard, Dell, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Macy’s Inc., MetLife, Morgan Stanley, Orbitz, PwC, Replacements, Ltd., Shell, Starbucks, and TD Banks
Many of these companies already have a presence in our county and are possibly members of the chamber. Many of these companies have invested a lot in developing a Gay friendly presence and would not appreciate even a tangential connection to Mr. Cathy.  These and many other companies may one day be choosing between an expansion in Prince William County and some other regional location. Knowing they are choosing a community that respects the rights of all their employees may be the tipping point in their decision.

I encourage you to reconsider your invitation to Mr. Cathy. I believe it is in the best interest of the Prince William Business community.

--
The Rev. Stuart Schadt
Trinity Episcopal Church
Manassas, Virginia

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On Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 4:23 PM, Robert Clapper wrote:

We appreciate your viewpoint and concern.   Please know that Mr. Cathy will not be addressing any political or social beliefs during the Chamber event.  Furthermore,  Chick Fil-A is not profiting from the event.  As a business organization, we are focused on offering our membership direct insight on an entrepreneurial idea that was built into a Fortune 500 company and the largest family-owned business in the country.

As a membership organization, we represent a diverse range of people and industries from across the political spectrum.  To limit our speaker choices to only those figures who are in no way polarizing, would be to do a disservice to the local business community.  For instance, it would mean that we would not have hosted receptions with the governor, attorney general and other political figures.  At the same time, the Chamber does not exist to move forward anybody’s political agenda.  Our intent in accepting Mr. Cathy’s offer to speak in Prince William is to provide our local business leaders with the opportunity to learn from a company that is amongst the highest-rated customer service focused organizations in the country. 

Please feel free to contact me personally if you would like to further discuss Mr. Cathy’s appearance.  Thank you for reaching out to us with your concerns.

Robert H. Clapper, II
President & CEO
The Prince William Chamber of Commerce
9720 Capital Court, STE 203
Manassas, VA 20110
Main: 703.368.6600
Cell:   703.945.8864
"One of the Largest Voices for Business in Virginia and Metropolitan DC"
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 From: Stuart Schadt
Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 6:39 AM
To: Robert Clapper
Subject: Re: Dan Cathy and the Image of the Prince William Business Community

Dear Mr. Clapper, officers and Board,

There is a great value to the variety of diversity in the American landscape. The chamber does well to hear a variety of political, economic, technical and other diversity. The diversity that accompanies Mr. Cathy is about human rights. His views on the Gay and Lesbian community is a brush it does us no good to be painted with. And he has made clear there is no difference between his biblical based business model and his views on this subject.

From numerous sources we read this week:

"However, Cathy told the Baptist Press he aims to operate the restaurant chain "on biblical principles." When asked whether his company had an established position against marriage equality, Cathy said, "guilty as charged."

He added, "We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. ... We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."

"The company has reported millions of dollars in donations to antigay groups including the Family Research Council and the Marriage and Family Foundation. Because of Chick-fil-A's ties to antigay organizations and causes, many LGBT people and allies are boycotting the restaurants, and plans to open a restaurant on the Northeastern University campus were quashed.

"In a follow-up interview, Cathy continued: "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 marriage."

Mr. Cathy and members of the chamber are entitled to their own views and values but I understand the chamber as valuing our image as a community open for business.

These values do not serve us well if we want to present Prince William County as a community where people want to locate their business. When the press covers his appearance here in the fall the tag lines will read, 'Dan Cathy, COO of Chic a fila, who earlier this year made a stir for his anti gay position earlier this year.'

Is this the PR the Chamber and our county wants?

The Rev. Stuart Schadt
Trinity Episcopal Church
Manassas, Virginia

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