Former Chick-fil-A employee: Restaurant chain - CBS46 News

Former Chick-fil-A employee: Restaurant chain has become 'place to hate'

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A former Chick-fil-A employee left his job with the Atlanta-based fast food chain because he didn't like what he said the company had come to represent.

"It's become a safe place for people to hate and expect to be patted on the back for it. I don't want to work in that kind of environment," said Steve Cammett, 60, of Dunwoody.

Cammett said he worked at a Chick-fil-A restaurant and at corporate headquarters over the past nine years. "I was a Chick-fil-A enthusiast," said Cammett. "We don't have enough time to go over all the things I liked about Chick-fil-A."

But Cammett's affinity for the company waned after its president and CEO Dan Cathy made comments about divorce and reaffirmed the company's opposition to same-sex marriage.

"I felt hurt by those statements," said Cammett who has been divorced twice and is married to his third wife. Cammett's late sister, Carol, was a lesbian.

In an interview with a religious newspaper in July, Cathy was quoted as saying, "We are very much supportive of the family - the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business and we are married to our first wives."

In an earlier radio interview, Cathy reportedly said, "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about."

In response to the comments, mayors in Boston and Chicago announced that Chick-fil-A was not welcome in their cities.

Conservative commentator and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee responded by announcing a Chick-fil-A appreciation day in August. Customers lined up outside the company's more than 1,600 restaurants to purchase food as a show of support for Cathy's comments.  

Cammett said since then some customers made inappropriate comments about gays and lesbians. Cammett relayed one story in which a customer put his arm around Cammett's colleague and said we are sure glad your company is taking a stand against those perverts. "And that person was gay and they didn't know it. And I just thought, 'Wow. What has happened here?'" said Cammett.

"Chick-fil-A allowed a mindset to continue, especially amongst their customers, that Chick-fil-A doesn't like homosexuals," said Cammett.

Cammett said he couldn't continue to work at Chick-fil-A because he would be disrespecting his late sister's memory.

Cammett said his sister chose to have relationships with women because she had been sexually abused as a child by her step-father, Steve's father, George.

Cammett pointed out that we are products of our experiences and wondered if Cathy would be more accepting if he walked in Cammett's shoes.   

Although Cammett and Cathy are of the same generation, by all accounts, the two had very different upbringings.

"When I see the Jerry Sandusky story, I see his face morph into my father's face. My father did similar things," said Cammett.

In 2009, Cathy told CBS Atlanta News of a typical encounter he had with his father, S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. 

"As I was walking out he said, 'Dan, don't forget, I'm very proud of you.' That was a common thing I'd hear from him. Those positive words of affirmation by a father to his son," said Dan Cathy. 

Cammett said he believes Dan Cathy's viewpoints may be different had he been exposed to different experiences.

"I wonder how life would have been different for Dan Cathy and for me if my parents have been Truett and Jeanette Cathy and his father had been George Cammett," said Cammett.

Before he resigned, Cammett said he saw a private video sent to franchise owners, that featured Cathy apologizing for the controversy his comments caused.

Cammett said, "I want Dan Cathy to make a public statement that said that Chick-fil-A, their leadership team and the Cathy family love all of God's children including gay and divorced children."

Chick-fil-A did not respond to CBS Atlanta News' request for a comment.  On its website, Chick-fil-A stated, "the Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender."

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