Tim Hortons doughnut chainCanadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons is listed as co-sponsor of the National Organization for Marriage’s antigay cookout and worship service on behalf of heterosexual-only marriage Aug. 16 at Aldrich Mansion in suburban Providence. Rhode Island is the last state in New England to oppose marriage equality.

According to Providence Daily Dose:

The event is “free and open to the public,” meaning that we’re all invited! So come on down! You can pay a modest fee for some hot food (some portion of which may or may not go to NOM/RI and their ongoing fight against the threat of marriage equality here and elsewhere), or you can just brown-bag it.

Tim Hortons is Canada’s largest foodservice operation — by some measures, larger than McDonald’s in that country. It is also the largest Canadian coffeehouse chain — Starbucks is No. 2. It has expanded into the eastern United States in recent years, acquiring local chains and amassing a network of 500 U.S. restaurants as it seeks to push aside Starbucks and New England-based Dunkin’ Donuts.

At first glance, Tim Hortons’ sponsorship of the National Organization for Marriage appears to be in violation of corporate policy against support for religious and political causes. According to the company web site:

As a company, our focus is on helping children and supporting fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities.

For this reason, Tim Hortons does not sponsor individuals, those representing religious groups, political affiliates, book endorsements or traveling sports teams. Tim Hortons does not provide cash donations.

So, why the exception? Apparently, the company allows local store owners to bend the rules as they please. As the company says:

Many Tim Hortons store owners are involved in their community and are proud to support a variety of programs and events on both a local and regional level. Nearly 95% of Tim Hortons locations are owned and operated by independent business people, so the final decision to make a donation is at the discretion of the store owner.

Contact Tim Hortons and give them your thoughts about the value of corporate policies that apparently were made to be broken.

Many thanks to Wesli Dymoke and Providence Daily Dose for uncovering this story.