Students protest Chick-fil-A sponsorship

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About a dozen protesters held signs in front of the Tower on Monday morning to demonstrate against fast-food chain Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of a pro-“traditional family” organization, as well as its presence on campus. Lauren Cozart, a women’s and gender studies senior, organized the event after reading about Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship of talks by the Pennsylvania Family Group, a conservative Christian organization that advocates traditional marriage. “I used to eat at Chick-fil-A, [and] other than being a Christian organization, I didn’t know anything about them,” said Cozart, who is openly gay. “It made me really mad because I like to be conscious of where my money goes.” Cozart said that Chick-fil-A’s status as a Christian corporation definitely played a role in their sponsorship. “There are a lot of Christian companies and organizations that back and use the Bible to defend their anti-gay policies, which is really offensive to me because I am a Christian, myself,” Cozart said. Cozart praised UT’s stringent anti-discrimination policy, which protects students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. She said the University shouldn’t allow businesses to violate its non-discrimination policy on campus. In a statement released last Saturday by Chick-fil-A, President and COO Dan Cathy said that the company has no agenda against anyone. “While my family and I believe in the biblical definition of marriage, we respect and love anyone who disagrees,” Cathy wrote. “As a result, we will not champion any political agendas on marriage or family.” Cathy added that Chick-fil-A would continue to offer resources to support traditional marriages and family, as doing anything different would be inconsistent with company core values and biblical principles. Around noon, the demonstration moved from the Tower to the Chick-fil-A at the newly opened Student Activity Center. “We came to demonstrate that this is a cause which the queer community does not support,” said radio-television-film senior Ben Kruger-Robbins, co-director of UT queer political activist group StandOut. “We’re trying to urge UT to step behind that effort.” Kruger-Robbins said he used to visit Chick-fil-A frequently but has since stopped going to the restaurant when he learned of Chick-fil-A’s position. “[Students] have to recognize that with the variety of restaurants on campus, there are other places that they can spend their money that don’t support repressive ideologies.”