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Tim Hortons under fire for link to anti-gay fundraiser

Company apologizes after Rhode Island franchise owner sponsors anti-gay marriage event

DOUBLE TROUBLE. Bloggers in the US are urging readers to put pressure on Tim Hortons, after a franchise owner decided to sponsor an anti-gay event in Rhode Island.

UPDATE, 1:45pm, Aug 10: Tim Hortons has released a statement on their website: “It has come to our attention that the Rhode Island event organizer and purpose of the event fall outside of our sponsorship guidelines. As such, Tim Hortons can not provide support at the event…. We apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience this may have caused.”

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Canadian cultural icon Tim Hortons is under fire today for its association with an anti-gay fundraiser in the US.

The Providence Daily Dose reports that a Rhode Island Tim Hortons franchise is sponsoring an event organized by the US National Organization for Marriage. A pamphlet for the event, billed as the “First Annual Celebrate Marriage and Family Day,” lists the coffee and donut shop as a sponsor.

Tim Hortons’ corporate policy suggests that the company does not sponsor political or religious groups. But because most outlets are owned by independent business owners, the “final decision to make a donation is at the discretion of the store owner,” says the company’s website.

Xtra.ca’s calls to Tim Hortons’ New England office were forwarded to the company’s head office in Ontario. The chain has not yet responded to our request for a comment.

Bloggers and Twitter users have sprung into action, urging readers to contact Tim Hortons through the chain’s online feedback form. Change.org has also created an online petition.

Truth Wins Out, a US website dedicated to “fighting rightwing lies and the ex-gay fraud,” has slammed Tim Hortons. “Give them your thoughts about the value of corporate policies that apparently were made to be broken.”

The Providence Daily Dose also has harsh words for the coffee and donut chain, which has been trying to expand its reach in the US market. “What better way to win over the hearts and minds of Rhode Islanders than to put their name and reputation behind the nation’s largest and most odious gang of gay marriage opponents,” writes Wesli Dymoke.

Twitter is buzzing with calls for boycotts and action against the chain. But others say that this was the action of one franchise owner, and that now is not the time for a boycott against the entire company.

Organizers of the Rhode Island event say their goal is “to esteem marriage and family to their proper place in society and make a statement that Rhode Islanders believe strongly in these cherished institutions.” The organization’s president, Maggie Gallagher, is set to make a speech at the event, which will also feature concerts, a “wedding renewal ceremony,” and — one would assume — a lot of donuts and double-doubles.

Tim Horton’s website lists 36 locations in Rhode Island.