A number of LGBTQ Twitter users called out the marathon for touting its relationship with Chick-fil-A, a company that has openly opposed same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights. The tweets came after the Pittsburgh Marathon Twitter account shared photos of a celebratory kids’ event at a Chick-fil-A location on McKnight Road.
Twitter users criticized the announcement, saying that bringing on Chick-fil-A as a sponsor does not support inclusion for its kids' programs and sends a harmful message to LGBTQ youth.
"As an organization, P3R strives to be inclusive of any and all members of the Pittsburgh community, and we have and will continue to be accepting of any individual or family who wants to participate in our events. We are working with organizations throughout the region to ensure we continue to expand our programming accordingly.
"P3R is deeply passionate about and committed to promoting a love of running, health, and fitness in the Pittsburgh region. Our intent with this partnership, along with all of our partnerships, is to further expand all of our events and programming ― including the Pittsburgh Kids Marathon and Kids of STEEL. This partnership with Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh will help us ensure even more children in southwestern Pennsylvania can learn and share in our love of running.
"As always, our number one priority is to provide an exceptional experience to runners like all of you and your families from start to finish."
In 2012, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy confirmed that the company — which promotes itself as conservative and Christian owned — does not support same-sex marriage because it goes against its core religious beliefs. In 2012, Equality Matters reported that Chick-fil-A donated millions to anti-LGBTQ organizations, including the Marriage & Family Foundation, through its WinShape Foundation.
Chick-fil-A supposedly ceased donating to anti-LGBTQ causes in 2012 following backlash. However, Winshape’s 2015 SEC filings show that it gave to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a non-profit Christian sports ministry noted by activists for preaching anti-LGBTQ rhetoric to youth athletes.
As recently as July 2018, Chick-fil-A was met with resistance when Toronto residents boycotted the company’s expansion to the city.
A petition demanding that the marathon reject Chick-fil-A’s partnership has more than 250 signatures.