Burger King says that for every Ch’King sandwich sold during June, which is Pride month, it will donate to The Human Rights Campaign.
The chain announced the donation plans in a tweet on June 3 that seemed pointed at Chick-fil-A, the reigning chicken sandwich fast food restaurant. BK says it will donate 40 cents for every chicken sandwich sold up to $250,000, or 625,000 sandwiches.
Burger King’s Pride Month promotion is a chance for it to distinguish itself from the crowded chicken sandwich landscape. Burger King released the Ch’King sandwich on June 3 after two years of recipe testing.
KFC, Popeyes, and McDonald’s all sell their own versions of crispy chicken sandwiches, though Chick-fil-A remains the chain to beat. As of December 2020, Chick-fil-A still had by far the largest share of online chicken sandwiches sales at 45%. No other brand even reached 20%.
As brands take to Twitter to celebrate Pride, many of the same companies donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians who voted against expanded LGBTQ protections.
In February, the vast majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the Equality Act, which aims to expand LGBTQ protections. SEC filings show that some of the best-known companies in the US, including McDonald’s, Walmart, and Amazon, have donated significant sums to politicians who voted against the bill.
Most major companies donate to both parties via political action committees, historically giving more to Republicans. (Industry PACs supported by these organizations also donate to both parties, but tend to skew even further right.) In recent years, many companies’ PACs – including Walmart, Amazon, and McDonald’s – have moved toward a 50/50 split between Democrat and Republican donations.
Companies donate to politicians’ campaigns hoping to influence lawmakers on legislation that might impact business, from immigration to minimum wages.
As a result, these industry giants have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians who are pushing for legislation that protects LGBTQ rights, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians actively working to defeat the same bills.
Companies are increasingly caught between a desire to pursue bipartisan political alliances through donations and expectations that they support progressive social causes. Now, some are being forced to change their strategies.
Walmart, Amazon, and McDonald’s collectively donated over $1 million to lawmakers who voted against the Equality Act
From 2019 to 2020, Walmart’s PAC donated $1.2 million to federal candidates, according to an Insider analysis of FEC data via the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations were exactly an even split – $596,000 to Republicans and $596,000 to Democrats. All but three Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the Equality Act, saying it could infringe on religious freedom. That means Walmart donated nearly $400,000 to politicians opposing the bill.
Meanwhile, the company’s Twitter avatar is currently rainbow hued, and the retailer is selling a collection of Pride merchandise. A Walmart spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
At the same time, the company’s PAC split donations from 2019 to 2020, donating $659,000 to Democratic candidates and $648,500 to Republicans. More than $460,000 of those donations went to politicians who voted against the Equality Act.
An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that the company “engages with policymakers and regulators on a wide range of issues that affect our business, customers, and employees.”
“That does not mean we agree with any individual or political organization 100 percent of the time on every issue, and this includes legislation that discriminates or encourages discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community,” the spokesperson continued.
Companies are changing how they approach political donations
In 2021, more brands are openly supporting LGBTQ people and celebrating Pride on social media than ever before.
Simultaneously, the US is seeing an explosion of anti-trans bills. Lawmakers are not simply voting against expanding protections for LGBTQ people, they are trying to pass new laws that advocates say will harm vulnerable individuals.
“These are organized anti-transgender forces, people who are ideologically anti-transgender, who are trying to push this everywhere that they can,” trans advocate Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen told Insider in April. “So it’s coordinated, it’s deliberate, and it is all about using trans people and especially trans youth as a political football.”
Employees and customers increasingly expect companies to uphold progressive social values, including vocal support of LGBTQ people. But, companies typically don’t want to surrender the chance to engage with politicians on both sides of the aisle.
In 2021, it is increasingly difficult for companies to say they support a cause, while donating to politicians who vote for laws that indicate the opposite. Marcia Chatelain, a Georgetown University professor, told Insider earlier this year that – in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests – brands like McDonald’s had assumed that tweeting support would satisfy most people.
“What they probably didn’t anticipate was we are at a moment where people ask for more,” Chatelain said. “They ask for more than donations. They ask for more than diversity-pipeline programs. They ask for more than skillful marketing. They actually ask for racial and economic justice.”
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Democratic-led House passed a bill Thursday that would enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation’s labor and civil rights laws, a top priority of President Joe Biden, though the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
The bill passed by a vote of 224-206 with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting yes.
The Equality Act amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas. Supporters say the law before the House on Thursday is long overdue and would ensure that every person is treated equally under the law.
“The LGBT community has waited long enough,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who is gay and the bill’s lead sponsor. “The time has come to extend the blessings of liberty and equality to all of Americans regardless of who they are and who they love.”
Republicans broadly opposed the legislation. They echoed concerns from religious groups and social conservatives who worry the bill would force people to take actions that contradict their religious beliefs. They warned that faith-based adoption agencies seeking to place children with a married mother and father could be forced to close, or that private schools would have to hire staff whose conduct violates tenets of the school’s faith.
“This is unprecedented. It’s dangerous. It’s an attack on our first freedom, the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights, religious liberty,” said Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.
The House passed the Equality Act in the last Congress with unanimous Democratic support and the backing of eight Republicans, but Donald Trump’s White House opposed the measure and it was not considered in the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Democrats are trying to revive it now that they have control of Congress and the White House, but passage still appears unlikely in the evenly divided Senate.
The Supreme Court provided the LGBTQ community with a resounding victory last year in a 6-3 ruling that said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applied to LGBTQ workers when it comes to barring discrimination on the basis of sex. Civil rights groups have encouraged Congress to follow up that decision and ensure that anti-bias protections addressing such areas as housing, public accommodations and public services are applied in all 50 states.
Biden made clear his support for the Equality Act in the lead-up to last year’s election, saying it would be one of his first priorities.
Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Penn., said the Equality Act is needed to end “the patchwork of state laws” around gay rights and create “uniform nationwide protection.”
“It’s been personal since my baby sister came out to me almost 40 years ago,” Scanlon said. “For many people all across this country and across this House, that is when the fight hits home.”
The debate among lawmakers on Capitol Hill also become personal. Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., whose daughter is transgender, tweeted a video of herself placing a transgender flag outside her office. Her office is across the hall from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who was recently blocked from serving on two committees because of past comments and tweets.
“Our neighbor, @RepMTG, tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is “disgusting, immoral, and evil.” Thought we’d put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door.,” Newman tweeted.
Greene responded with a video of her own in which she puts up a sign that reads: “There are Two genders: MALE and FEMALE. “Trust The Science!”
“Our neighbor, @RepMarieNewman, wants to pass the so-called “Equality” Act to destroy women’s rights and religious freedoms. Thought we’d put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door,” Greene tweeted.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pointed to the exchange to advocate for the bill Thursday.
“It breaks my heart that it is necessary, but the fact is, and in fact we had a sad event here even this morning, demonstrating the need for us to have respect,” Pelosi said, at one point pausing and taking a deep sigh. “Not even just respect, but take pride, take pride in our LGBT community.”
Gay and lesbian members of Congress spoke about how meaningful the bill is for them.
“Look, we’re not asking for anything that any other American doesn’t already enjoy,” said Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H. “We just want to be treated the same. We just want politicians in Washington to catch up with the times and the Constitution.”
Leaders at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote lawmakers this week to say they had grave concerns about the bill. Among the concerns they raised is that the bill would expand the government’s definition of public places, forcing church halls and equivalent facilities to host functions that violate their beliefs, which could lead to closing their doors to the broader community.
Republicans cited an array of consequences they said could occur if the bill passed into law, from eliminating the existing ban on the use of government funds for abortion, to allowing transgender people into women’s shelters and transgender youth into girls sports. Democrats likened the effort to past civil rights battles in the nation’s history.
Cicilline challenged Republicans, “I hope you will bear in mind how your vote will be remembered years from now.”
Some of the nation’s largest corporations are part of a coalition in support of the legislation, including Apple Inc., AT&T, Chevron and 3M Co., just to name a few of the hundreds of companies that have endorsed it.