By Leon Stafford
Almost two years after he made headlines by throwing his support behind traditional marriage and later decried a pair of Supreme Court decisions that favored same-sex unions, Cathy hasn’t changed his mind. But he said Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has no place in the culture wars and regrets making the company a symbol in the marriage debate.
“Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development and it helps by (recognizing) the mistakes that you make,” Cathy said. “And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you’re just a fool. I’m thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it.
Cathy talked about the events of the summer of 2012 in a wide-ranging interview that included his thoughts about the company’s future and the path he wants to put it on as the newly named CEO. He got the title in November after his father, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, stepped aside at age 92.
Cathy told an online publication in 2012 that he was “guilty as charged” in his religion-based opposition to gay marriage. Same-sex marriage supporters protested at Chick-fil-A locations; thousands who backed Cathy’s stance – or at least his right to state it — packed stores, creating lines that snaked out the door.
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Progressive website Think Progress earlier this month reported that Chick-fil-A’s foundations — WinShape Foundation and its namesake Chick-fil-A Foundation — “dramatically” cut donations to groups gay marriage supporters consider anti-gay. WinShape sharply decreased grants overall, and the only group the Chick-fil-A Foundation gave money to that is considered by the gay rights community to be anti-gay is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which received $25,000.
Cathy said he decided to step back from the gay marriage debate after prayer and conversations with co-workers and friends, including Shane Windmeyer, a gay supporter of marriage equality who helped Cathy understand why marriage was important to the gay community.
Read more: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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