Iowa’s gay community is in an uproar after Chick-fil-A sponsored a local festival designed to promote diversity.
The fast-food chain, which drew national attention in 2012 when its CEO spoke out in opposition to gay marriage, is among about a dozen sponsors of the Iowa City Summer of the Arts’ Iowa Soul Festival, presented by a nonprofit that promotes cultural awareness and inclusion, according to the De Moines Register.
Some in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community say Chick-fil-A’s involvement makes them feel unwelcome at the event, the Register reported.
“When they’re a sponsor in a city that prides itself in celebrating diversity, I think we do have to question that,” Janelle Rettig, a Johnson County supervisor who has been in a same-sex marriage for nearly 26 years, told the Register. “It’s eyebrow raising, and it makes me wonder if I should even go to Soul Fest because I’m uncomfortable with it.”
The Chick-fil-A eatery in Coralville is sponsoring the festival’s “Culinary Row,” saying its participation is a way to show support for the local arts, diversity and the LGBT community.
“Our goal is to treat all people with honor, dignity and respect,” Coralville Chick-fil-A owner Adam Donius told the Register.
Summer of the Arts organizers said Chick-fil-A’s sponsorship may be controversial, but everyone is welcome to attend.
“Summer of the Arts welcomes all people to attend and participate in our festivals and events regardless of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference,” the group said in a statement released Tuesday, describing the Soul Festival as a way to “celebrate and increase awareness of diversity and the positive impact it has on our community.”
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