In an explosive article published by The Daily Beast on 1 June, White House reporter Scott Bixby exposed Chick-fil-A’s current donations to anti-LGBTQ+ groups only a year after it promised to stop. It seems that Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s billionaire owner, back-tracked on these promises and is now taking his anti-LGBTQ+ agenda even further. The Daily Beast revealed that “accidental public disclosures” uncovered a “sophisticated dark money operation” that tied Chick-fil-A to a multitude of Christian fundamentalist groups—most notably the National Christian Charitable Foundation (NFC).
The NCF is one of the largest donor-advised funds (DAF) and the sixth-largest charity in the US overall. It is, at its core, a right-wing fundamentalist group—one infamous for its anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-Muslim contributions. In an article by Inside Philanthropy, aptly titled Big Money, Quiet Power, they write that the NCF “is probably the singlest biggest source of money fueling the ‘pro-life’ and anti-LGBT movement over the past 15 years.”
Being a DAF theoretically means that the NCF makes its ‘charitable’ contributions based on the recommendations of its donors. An anonymous analyst had this to say to The Daily Beast, “The whole point of the donor-advised fund structure is that the donor can’t make the decision—they can only suggest. But they certainly sell it to donors as, ‘We do what you want with this money.’” To put it simply, there’s strong evidence that Chick-fil-A is ‘potentially’ telling the NCF what to do with the money it donates to it, where to distribute it and what to fund with it. So what exactly are they funding and who is funding it?
Usually, these donations are withheld from public disclosure but thanks to The Daily Beast, we have a few names. Chick-fil-A’s CEO is just one of the many homophobic Christian millionaires behind this terrifying “dark money operation” that aims to kill the Equality Act and pass anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. This includes numerous efforts to promote anti-trans legislation. Other NCF donors include former US education secretary Betsy Devos, the owners of Hobby Lobby (a US retail company) and the Anschutz oil and gas dynasty.
The Equality Act is a bill that aims to amend the Civil Rights Act (1964) to add the prohibition of discrimination based on “sex, sexual orientation and gender identity.” The Trump administration had previously attempted to redefine these parameters to erase transgender people from these polices.
If passed, the Equality Act would be a landmark moment for LGBTQ+ peoples in all areas of life such as education, medical care, housing and more. President Biden had initially promised to pass the bill within his first hundred days in office; in spite of the House of Representatives passing the bill, with a bi-partisan majority, it stalled in the Senate—meaning Biden has now missed his deadline goal.
It’s terrible that in 2021, it has yet to pass. In fact, most people are under the impression that it is already under federal law—unfortunately, that is not the case. Its stalling is largely to do with groups like the NCF and the funding of Christian billionaires like Cathy. Don’t forget that the NCF is a “donor-advised fund” so when it donates money to groups such as the ADF, that’s probably where the individual wants their money to go. It has been uncovered that in 2018, the NCF donated over $6 million to the ADF. The ADF is a conservative group that lobbied and authored many anti-trans legislation and policies for years.
In fact, one of the most widely discussed anti-trans bills (‘the bathroom bills’) were influenced by the ADF. That’s how powerful they are. In an article from 2016, Mother Jones disclosed striking similarities between an ADF letter (sent to schools in 2014) which opposed bathroom access to transgender students and the actual anti-trans bathroom bills that were proposed in North Carolina, Minnesota, Nevada and Kansas. The ADF has even argued in the Supreme Court for the criminalisation of homosexuality in the US and the sterilisation of trans-people—wow.
This is where Dan Cathy is spending his money. This is where those chicken sandwich dollars are going. It’s not just supporting a few homophobes here and there, it’s changing policy. It’s endangering the lives of LGBTQ+ people, specifically trans people, every day. Yeah. A chicken sandwich can change the fabric of US society. The NCF and the ADF are just two groups mentioned—there are many more. So if you are able to, just eat somewhere else. If not, there are other ways to be an ally. I promise there are other chicken sandwiches that don’t come with a side of homophobia.
An anti-LGBTQ politician from Hungary, and the husband of a high-profile female Hungarian constitutional court judge, Jozsef Szajer, resigned from the European Parliament on Sunday after he was caught fleeing from what was described as a 25 man orgy in Brussels, which was busted by police for breaching Belgium’s COVID-19 pandemic lockdown rules. What happened exactly?
Szajer allegedly climbed out a first floor window and was spotted “fleeing along the gutter” from a party, according to Sarah Durant, a spokeswoman for the Brussels region’s deputy public prosecutor. “The man’s hands were bloody,” Durant continued that “It is possible that he may have been injured while fleeing. Narcotics were found in his backpack. The man was unable to produce any identity documents. He was escorted to his place of residence, where he identified himself by means of a diplomatic passport.” It was reported he tried to claim diplomatic immunity.
The orgy’s organiser has denied doing anything wrong when the secret party was raided by the police, inevitably catching the men in the act. Within those that were caught, was Szajer, who is a close political ally of right-wing Hungarian president Viktor Orban. Szajer has since resigned from his role in the European Parliament. According to Reuters, President Orban told the Magyar Nemzet newspaper that Szajer’s actions were “indefensible” and that they went against the values of Fidesz’s political group which effectively portrays itself as a champion of traditional Christian values, which do not include homosexual acceptance.
Orban publicly stated: “We will not forget nor repudiate his 30 years of work, but his deed is unacceptable and indefensible. Following this, he took the only appropriate decision when he apologised and resigned from his position as member of the European Parliament and left Fidesz.”
The 20 people who attended the party were detained by the police in Brussels and reported that Szajer had narcotics on him, to which the politician denied taking and offered to take a drug test as proof on the scene. However, this was not carried out by the police. The Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure quoted a local police source in saying that “We interrupted a gang bang.”
David Manzheley, who hosted the party, insisted to Reuters at his apartment in central Brussels that “We don’t sit around drinking tea. People are here for sex.” Manzheley said that whoever attended was very careful and followed his one rule, being that everyone in attendance had to have previously contracted the virus. According to the Independent, he reportedly said “To be honest, I don’t see the problem. There were two nurses there, and they didn’t think it was dangerous either,” adding that it was like any other party, “We talk, we have a drink—just like at the cafe. The only difference is that in the meantime, we’re having sex with each other. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. We’re all adults, everything is by mutual consent.”
Szajer publicly followed up with an apology saying “The police continued the process and finally issued an official verbal warning and transported me home. I deeply regret violating the COVID restrictions, it was irresponsible on my part. I am ready to stand for the fine that occurs.”
In Hungary, fair right allies of Orban tried to explain the sex party scandal by claiming that Szajer was infact set up by the German secret service, however the media in Hungary only indicate that he was caught at a house party and simply was forced to resign due to him breaking the lockdown rules.
The LGBTQ community and critics of the party say that Szajer’s actions reeked of hypocrisy due to the nature and beliefs of the Fidesz leaders. The affair shows the “complete moral bankruptcy of Fidesz,” András Fekete-Győr, leader of opposition party Momentum, wrote in a Facebook post.
Orban’s Hungarian government has curtailed LGBTQ rights since he was elected as the prime minister in 2010, and Szajer helped to rewrite Hungary’s constitution. As reported by The Times, his intention was to “protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.” Hungary also passed a law making it impossible for transgender or intersex people to legally change their gender, which left the government to propose legislation to ban adoptions by gay couples. The text of a proposed constitutional amendment notes that “the mother is a woman, the father is a man.”
According to the Guardian, a source in the European parliament said that “There is nothing wrong to participate in a sex party of any kind. However, such kinds of meetings with many people are illegal under the coronavirus laws. The fact of being covered by parliamentary immunity does not exempt anyone from obeying the law.”
The event is still unresolved completely, but as Szajer announced his resignation as an MEP, he also asked the public to treat the matter as “strictly personal” to him. Controversial to this however, are the very personal and life impacting decisions that Fidesz made towards the LGBTQ community, which introduces proof of how potentially corrupt power, especially political power, can be.