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Chick-Fil-A's WinShape Foundation: Now partnering with NOM's Ruth Institute

by Jeremy Hooper

Okay so this is going to take a little explanation. But stick with it. It's a good find, especially in light of the recent Chick-Fil-A/Pennsylvania Family Institute sponsorship controversy and Chick-Fil-A's corporate silence on the matter.

So alright, let's begin with some background on the two players we'll be discussing:

(1) Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 2.46.27 PmThe Winshape Foundation is the charitable of Chick-Fil-A and its founder Truett Cathy. The foundation has several Christian focuses, all focused on strengthening certain values. Fair enough. In a perfect world we would all be able to come together and jointly work for some of their very valid goals.

(2) Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 2.48.00 PmThe Ruth Institute is a spinoff project of the National Organization For Marriage. The group is all about opposing gay marriage, with a particular focus on young people. You might know Ruth's visible head, Jennifer Roback Morse, who we've featured on here a number of times. She's also the one who caught national headlines recently when she talked about wearing a rainbow scarf (that wasn't really rainbow) to the Prop 8 trial as a way of reclaiming the rainbow from the gay rights movement.

Okay, so Ruth has been pushing something called The Reel Love Video Challenge. This site showed you a promo for the contest back in December. Basically, the idea is for young people to make :30 second videos telling what lifelong love means to them. And again, just like with the Winshape Foundation's work, the whole contest would be totally benign and even positive, if not for Ruth/NOM's agenda towards LGBT people.

Right, so today this writer was mindlessly knocking around the Reel Love video site, primarily as a distraction. However, through the bored surfing, I happened to catch note of a few new references to something unfamiliar to my "culture war" eyes. Something called LoveIsHere.com:

(red arrows are my own)
[SOURCE: Ruth Institute's Reel Love Video Challenge]

Never before hearing of such a site, I grew curious. So the next thing I did was take a look at the coding of the Ruth Institute's "Reel Love" site (as one commonly does, right?). This is what I found:

[SOURCE: Ruth Institute's Reel Love Video Challenge]

For the non-HTML geeky: Basically the highlighted coding shows that the frame on the site into which the videos are posted is actually not hosted on Ruth's "Reel Love" site, but rather is coming from a separate, unannounced 'Love Is Here" site. So growing even more curious, I headed over to LoveIsHere.com, where the only content at this point is this:

Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 2.34.40 Pm
[SOURCE: LoveIsHere.com]

Okay, so this landing page is written in the same theme and style as the "Reel Love" contest. So it would seem that this is a planned effort that Ruth will use to turn this contest into further movement for their cause. Right. Whatever. Not out-of-line for them to do so, as far as the effort itself goes.

But -- but, but but: It's when one looks down a little further on this launch page that it gets interesting:

Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 2.36.50 Pm
[SOURCE: LoveIsHere.com]

See what it says down there? Yup, that's right: This planned site with undeniable ties to Ruth (and therefore NOM) is a project of Chick-Fil-A's WinShape Foundation. The same Chick-Fil-A that already has some unanswered questions regarding a (now-scrubbed) sponsorship claimed by Pennsylvania's leading anti-marriage equality group.

Now, who knows how LGBT-focused this yet-to-launch site will be. The content plan that I dug up doesn't seem explicitly LGBT-focused:

Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 2.40.22 Pm

But still: The Ruth Institute is *BEYOND* focused on gays and the civil discrimination thereof. Morse even tours around on NOM-sanctioned buses for that "godly" cause:

NOM Tour Tracker

When we equality activists see major American companies getting in bed with that which threatens our own bedrooms, we can't help but take note. Here's hoping Chick-Fil-A/WinShape (to whom we've registered contact) will this time offer a response.


*UPDATE: Here's the direct LIH page where the Ruth contest is hosted: http://loveishere.com/partners/videos/2/drjweighsin.html. Also, Ruth's E.D. created a pdf document wherein she encourage bloggers to embed the contest, complete with LIH URL, onto their own sites. The connections could not be more obvious.

**UPDATE3: It seems the plan is to launch this LIH effort on Saturday January 8th, with a featured 60 second spot airing during the TV movie CHANGE OF PLANS (on FOX, 8pm EST). This per an email posted on Bill Coffin's site. The same Bill Coffin who, on 12/1/10, Tweeted the following:

Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 4.08.07 Pm

**UPDATE 4: More WinShape connections -- to LIH, to Morse, and to America's gay marriage movement in general: Marriage CoMission Summit: Unlikely to serve KFC, gays' pro-equality interests [G-A-Y]


*MAJOR UPDATE: This post was the catalyst for what became a huge, nationwide examination into WinShape, Chick-Fil-A, and corporate practices pertaining to the LGBT population. Here's our roundup of the entire saga.

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