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Marriage CoMission Summit: Unlikely to serve KFC, gays' pro-equality interests

by Jeremy Hooper

This post will build on our last one, in which we highlighted some level of connection between Chick-Fil-A's WinShape Foundation and Jennifer Roback Morse's Ruth Institute (an affiliate of the National Organization For Marriage). So if you haven't read that earlier post, now if your chance to (a) get caught up or (b) run away now. We won't be offended or talk about you while you're gone. Honestly.

Okay, now that we've gotten rid of those lazy slackers and are all on the same "culture war"-obsessed page: We must tell you that we've discovered further connections between Chick-Fil-A's WinShape program and the entire "protect marriage" movement. Not just to the Pennsylvania Family Institute. Not just to the Ruth Institute. But to the organized marriage movement in this country -- period.

Oh yea: And this time we have much of it on video, via internal documents, in photos, and through other fun things. Let's go:

Alright, so it turns out that Chick-Fil-A's WinShape Foundation, as part of its marriage outreach efforts, has partnered with other "pro-family" groups on something called The Marriage CoMission. Oh, and that's not a typo -- it's one "m." As in a mission that they're all "co"-ing in on. A mission that (spoiler alert) doesn't want to hear "Here Comes The Bride" either pluralized or masculinized.

On said CoMission, Winshape/Chick-Fil-A are very well represented. There's Jeff Fray, who, by all accounts, steers the CoMission's ship:

Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 7.05.55 Pm

But even more than Fray: The CoMission's most prominent representation comes from Bubba Cathy, the scion of Chick-Fil-A's pickled bun dynasty:


And there are other WinShape/Chick-a-dees involved. Full leadership list here.

Okay, so every year in December, this CoMission gather group of prominent marriage stalwarts to strategize how they can strengthen their movement. But they don't just get together anywhere. No, no -- they all get together at WinShape's own Georgia Retreat. Here's the Summit's purpose statement, initial signatories (from folks like professional "gay-changer" Alan Chambers), and a link to the full charter:

[Full Charter]
Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 7.16.32 Pm
735390902 Szxja-M

And like most things in the "protect marriage" movement, this summit seems to grow in conservative prominence by the year. By 2008, the participant list had grown to include folks like David Blankenhorn, Alveda King, and Focus on the Family president Jim Daly:

2008 Bios

Some brief highlights from that year's banquet: FoTF's Daly made sure to thank the Cathys (i.e. Chick-Fil-A) for bringing the movement together:

WinShape's Jeff Fray praised Blankenhorn for his prowess in the same-sex marriage debate:

And Fray laid out exactly where the Summit leadership stands on what marriage is, no debate needed:

And there's much more. We're making our way through literally hours of '08 clips; we'll post more that we deem pertinent to our movement.

Though for our interests of today, it's really the 2009 and 2010 editions of the Summit that hold our interest. So let's start, naturally, with 2009. That's the year that the gay marriage movement players who really have our attention started attending the summit. Players like, for example: Maggie Gallagher and Jennifer Roback Morse:

2009 Bios

Agenda Participant

Morse's '09 participation is of course interesting because of our earlier post, where we undeniably connected her Ruth Institute (which again, is a NOM affiliate) directly to the WinShape Foundation's forthcoming LoveIsHere.com project. Which, incidentally, is the very project that segues us to the 2010 Summit.

For 2010 (which just took place in the first week of December), we don't yet have handy video or pictures or participant lists or really much of a concrete agenda to follow. However, we do have #something to let us know what went on. Namely: We have tweets. Tweets from Summit participants like Bill Coffin, who tells us that this soon-to-be-launched LoveIsHere.com site was prominently touted at WinShape 2010:

Screen Shot 2011-01-06 At 8.00.34 Pm

Reminder: The same LoveIsHere.com that is hosting the Ruth Institute's contest videos. The same Ruth Institute that works daily to stop basic civil fairness for same-sex couples. The same WinShape that is a product of the Chick-Fil-A chain and its more than 1,400 locations in 38 states and D.C. The same Chick-Fil-A that began this week with national questions, due to a (now-scrubbed) sponsorship claim from Pennsylvania's leading anti-marriage equality group. Same, same, same, same, same.

As with all other Chicky developments from this week, we're simply highlighting the known reality. No boycott calls. No petitions. No personal attacks. If all of these groups are proud of these bonds that they've made, then they will have zero problem with us bringing these undeniable connections to light. It will be just ho-hum, the way it would be if they highlighted our alliance with just about any group or corporation fighting for basic equality.

But if the reaction is to resort to the same messenger-shooting we've already seen this week? Well, then that will be more telling than anything we could ever write, now won't it?


*UPDATE: Now Chick-Fil-A's supported WinShape Retreat confirms it: They do not allow gay couples.

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