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Dan Cathy
Dan Cathy

CHICK-FIL-NO-THANK-YOU: Focus St. Louis and the Clayton Chamber of Commerce said today that they are canceling a planned presentation by Dan Cathy, president and COO of Chick-fil-A, following complaints that Cathy and his company are involved with anti-gay organizations.

Chick-fil-A, which is known for promoting a company vision of Christian values, was enmeshed in a controversy earlier this year involving an independent Chick-fil-A operator in Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is affiliated with the Family Resource Institute. The latter institute was recently designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its anti-gay positions.

The decision to cancel Cathy's March 18 presentation here was made after PROMO, a statewide organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, protested his appearance and asked Focus and the Chamber of Commerce to reconsider.

Ellen Gale, the head of the chamber, said today that when the groups agreed to co-sponsor Cathy's appearance, they had no idea he held controversial views.

"We are a pro-diversity culture here and certainly don't want to offend anyone," Gale said. "We didn't know anything about this when he was booked."

Focus said in a statement that inclusion and acceptance for all people in the community is a core principal of the organization.

When it came to the group's attention that Cathy's appearance could be seen as inconsistent with their commitment to diversity and inclusion, they decided to cancel his appearance.

Ticket refund information will be available on the Focus St. Louis website.

Deborah Peterson is an editorial writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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