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Chick-fil-A seeks to open restaurant in Madison

Chick-fil-A, the Bible Belt-based fast-food chain whose charitable wing funneled millions of dollars to organizations working to demonize gays and lesbians, is seeking city approval to open an outlet in Madison’s West Town Mall at 423 S. Gammon Road.The company was scheduled to present its plans to Madison’s Urban Design Commission today.

Chick-fil-A’s red-bricked façades are a common sight throughout the Southern states. But Racine is the only Wisconsin city where a Chick-fil-A has opened.

The rapidly expanding company has its sites set on Wisconsin, however, with other projects scheduled in Brookfield at 12575 W. Capitol Ave., and in Greendale at an undisclosed location later this year. Those two Milwaukee suburbs are bastions of right-wing activism.

But Madison, the state’s most liberal city, seems an odd choice for the controversial fast-food giant, which is famous for serving breasts of factory-farmed chickens on a bun and for remaining closed on Sundays so that its employees can attend church.

In 2012, LGBT people and their allies boycotted the chain and staged protests at several sites after chief operating officer Dan Cathy made remarks condemning same-sex couples. That opposition made Cathy and Chick-fil-A heroes of the evangelical Christians who want to halt same-sex marriages and re-criminalize homosexuality. The company's sales soared — and continue to do so.

But when Chicago and Boston denied permits for the privately held company to build restaurants in those cities, Cathy agreed to stop making official donations to hate groups and organizations with anti-gay missions. Such contributions from WinShape Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, ended soon afterward. But due to the nearly impossible task of tracing bundled contributions to astroturf political action committees, donations made by the Cathy family are shielded from public view.

So far, there has been no organized effort to stop Chick-fil-A’s expansion plans in Wisconsin, including in Madison.

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