Grace Slick

Former Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship singer Grace Slick has revealed that she allowed a fast food chain to use her music in an advertisement, specifically so she could use her payment to fund causes to which the chain’s management is opposed.

Writing in Forbes, Slick said her first reaction when asked if Chick-fil-A could use Starship’s 1987 hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now was “Fuck, no!” She explained that the Georgia-based company’s owners have a Christian philanthropic foundation, WinShape, that opposes same-sex marriage, and that its CEO, Dan T Cathy, “has critiqued gay-rights supporters who ‘have the audacity to define marriage’ and said they are ‘inviting God’s judgment’ upon the nation’”.

In 2011, Chick-fil-A was involved with a marriage conference along with the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which had taken action to try to prevent same-sex marriage in the state, and lobbied against Pennsylvania legislators’ plans to ban discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The company said the link-up had been the doing of a local franchisee. However, the WinShape Foundation, which was established by company founder S Truett Cathy – Dan Cathy’s father – and heavily funded by the company has given millions of dollars in grants to organisations considered anti-gay by the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Matters, including Exodus International, which supported sexual orientation conversion therapy until its demise in 2013.

Speaking on The Ken Coleman Show on US radio in 2012, Dan Cathy outlined his beliefs. “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,’” Cathy said. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

He also extended those beliefs to the company: “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. We give God thanks for that … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy said.

In her Forbes article, Slick wrote: “I firmly believe that men should be able to marry men, and women women. I am passionately against anyone who would try to suppress this basic human right.”

And so she decided to accept the offer, and to to donate all the money she receives as a result of the advert to Lambda Legal, a civil rights organisation that offers legal help to LGBTQ people and those living with HIV/Aids.

“Admittedly it’s not the millions that WinShape has given to organisations that define marriage as heterosexual,” Slick wrote. “But instead of them replacing my song with someone else’s and losing this opportunity to strike back at anti-LGBTQ forces, I decided to spend the cash in direct opposition to ‘Check’-fil-A’s causes – and to make a public example of them, too. We’re going to take some of their money, and pay it back.”
Slick said she hoped her gesture would “set an example” to other artists when it comes to licensing songs for use by companies whose social and political stances they might oppose: “We can use our gifts to help stop the forces of bigotry.”

Lambda Legal has been in action this week, announcing on Wednesday that it would take legal action against any school district discriminating against trans students. The announcement followed the Trump administration’s decision to reverse a federal policy that said transgender students in publicly run schools should be allowed to use the toilets and changing rooms of their gender identity.