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Why did Chick-fil-A cross the road, pull funds for gay marriage foes?

The restaurant chain said Wednesday it henceforth will 'leave the public-policy debate over same-sex marriage to ... the political arena.' Chick-fil-A has said no more, but key business factors probably played into its change of course.

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In this Aug. photo, customers stand in line for a Chick-fil-a meal at the chain's restaurant in Wichita, Kan. The crowd was buying meals to show their support for the company that's currently embroiled in a controversy over same-sex marriage.

Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle/AP

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After enduring a major public-relations tsunami this summer, Chick-fil-A, the Atlanta-based sandwich shop that’s closed on Sundays, says it will end its decade-long corporate support of culture-warrior groups that oppose gay marriage.

"Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. Its charitable arm, WinShape Foundations, gave $2 million to gay-marriage opponents such as Focus on the Family in 2010 alone, according to ABC News.

The news emerged from Chicago, from the office of city Alderman Joe Moreno, who helped drive the controversy by vowing to block Chick-fil-A’s application for a building permit in Chicago’s hip Northwest Side ward over statements by CEO Dan Cathy this summer. Mr. Cathy told the Baptist Press in July that he was “guilty as charged” for supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

The comments caused demonstrations and counterdemonstrations, including a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day suggested by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R). The Henson Group, of “Muppets” fame, broke off relations with the company over the flap. Many gay acdtivists vowed to shun the restaurant, while conservatives alleged that Mr. Moreno and other politicians were engaging in “thug” politics by punishing a private business for protected speech.

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