Over the years, the Atlanta-based fast-food chain Chick-fil-A has repeatedly clashed with members of the LGBT community. In 2011, reports surfaced that the company had given millions of dollars to organizations intent on striking down same-sex marriage laws and changing people’s sexual orientations through controversial therapy. Shortly thereafter, Dan Cathy—Chick-fil-A’s chief operating officer, and a member of the Baptist family that owns the company—said that same-sex marriage was “inviting God’s judgment on our nation” in a radio interview.
But in light of the recent mass-shooting at Pulse—a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were massacred by a gunman this weekend—employees at a local restaurant prepared food for those waiting in line to give blood to survivors. Though Chick-fil-A is notoriously closed on Sundays, a day the company’s founder thought should be spent with family, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a handful of workers could be seen passing out sandwich and iced tea to thousands of donors on the day of rest.
“Our restaurant, along with a couple of others in the area, simply responded just like numerous other Orlando businesses and residents have done,” the restaurant wrote in a comment on its Facebook page. “We came together as a community to lift those in need.”
As Eater notes, Chick-fil-A often gives its franchises a fair amount of freedom when it comes to interacting with their communities. Last year, locations were involved with both an LGBT film festival and a gay pride picnic. In a statement, the company seemed to support the Orlando franchise's actions over the weekend.
"I can confirm that while we have a corporate policy that firmly states we are closed for business on Sundays, there have been rare cases that move our local operators to respond with food donations to help communities in need,” a spokesperson for the company told Eater. “The events in Orlando stirred our local restaurant owners and their teams to band together to provide nourishment to first responders as well as volunteers who donated blood. We do not think this requires any recognition. It is the least we can do in this community we love."
Still, in other parts of the country, the tensions between Chick-fil-A and the LGBT community have become increasingly strained in recent months. Earlier this year, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urged a boycott of the chain in the five boroughs.
“What the ownership of Chick-fil-A has said is wrong," de Blasio said. "I’m certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn’t urge any other New Yorker to patronize them. But they do have a legal right."