McDonald’s Accused of Equating Defense of Marriage with ‘Hatred’

By Pete Winn | July 17, 2008 | 6:04 PM EDT

Conservatives that support traditional marriage say they are outraged over McDonald’s recent decision to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) has increased.

( - Conservatives who support traditional marriage say they are outraged over McDonald’s recent decision to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), and in recent days, their indignation has only increased. 
Conservative activists object to the way McDonald’s fired back at them in the press after the American Family Association (AFA) organized a boycott of the burger giant.
In a July 4 story, The Washington Post quoted McDonald’s USA spokesman Bill Whitman, as saying: “Hatred has no place in our culture. That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment."
The comment “was an insult,” according to Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs at the conservative group, Liberty Counsel, which has signed onto the AFA boycott.
“He insulted tens of millions of Americans who believe that the historical definition of marriage between one man and woman is important and crucial to society. He said that we’re haters and we’re motivated by hate. That, on its face, is a bold-face lie,” Barber told Cybercast News Service.
Barber’s group was one of four pro-family conservative groups to hold a news conference Wednesday in front of McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill.
“I can’t believe that McDonald’s would be so short-sighted that it would allow this spokesperson to go off half-cocked and insult tens of millions of Americans who support the traditional definition of marriage,” said Barber.
The groups – which also included the American Family Association, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality and the Illinois Family Institute – called on Americans to participate in the boycott, which was launched on July 3 to protest McDonald’s $20,000 contribution to the NGLCC and the fact that Richard Ellis, McDonald’s vice president of communications, is now serving on the homosexual organization’s board of directors.
Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, said Christians who oppose homosexual marriage do so for moral and practical reasons, not because they “hate” homosexuals.
“Morality is not hate. Judeo-Christian beliefs are not bigotry,” LaBarbera told Cybercast News Service. “This is a canard that the homosexual activists have been pushing for years – that if you oppose homosexual activism you are somehow a ‘bigot,’ or a ‘hater’ or a ‘homophobe.’ It’s a scandal to see a spokesman for a seemingly pro-family organization like McDonald’s echoing the gay line like this.”
“It’s a shame that McDonald’s, which purports to serve anyone, would essentially abandon the business of selling hamburgers, and essentially join sides with radical homosexual activists in a culture war on a very polarizing subject,” Barber said.
McDonald’s did not respond directly to questions asking if Whitman’s comments were in context and if an insult was intended, but the company did provide Cybercast News Service with a statement, attributed to Pat Harris, chief diversity officer for McDonald’s Corporation.
“At McDonald’s, we respect and value everyone,” Harris said. “Diversity and inclusion are business imperatives and integral parts of our culture. We have a long and proud history of leadership in these areas and continually strive to maintain a work environment where everyone feels valued and accepted.
“We recognize and appreciate the contributions diverse groups and individuals bring to our society, including McDonald’s. We stand behind and support everyone’s right to live and work in a society free from discrimination and harassment,” Harris added.
The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), meanwhile, also did not provide a spokesman for comment to Cybercast News Service.
However, in a statement attributed to its president, Justin Nelson, and its CEO, Chance Mitchell, the NGLCC said: “The main focus of the NGLCC is to connect major corporations with LGBT-owned (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered) businesses that want to ensure their diverse supply chain looks like the customer and employee bases they have, or the customer and employee bases they are trying to attract."
They added: “A company's decision to become a corporate partner doesn't reflect its entrance into the so-called ‘culture wars,’ as the conservative AFA suggested, but rather its commitment to diversity in the workplace and in its supplier relationships.”
LaBarbera took issue with that view, characterizing the NGLCC as “a homosexual group which is working to extend advances made by homosexual activist groups over the last two decades or more.”
He also noted that the organization takes political positions on legislation that involves homosexuality and the homosexual agenda.
“McDonald’s paid $20,000 so that one of its top executives could have a seat on the (NGLCC’s) board of directors,” LaBarbera said. “How is that not an endorsement of the homosexual agenda?"