A protest against corporate giant McDonald's ended when the Christian-based American Family Association announced the fast-food chain had made an abrupt about-face. On Thursday, the AFA said it had ended its half-year boycott against McDonald's after the company agreed to “remain neutral in the culture war regarding homosexual marriage.” Gay groups, however, questioned the validity of the statement.

In May, the AFA launched a website denouncing McDonald's for its support of the gay and lesbian community. The website, found at boycottMcdonalds.com, says the protest was about the company refusing to remain neutral in the culture wars. “McDonald's has chosen not to remain neutral but give the full weight of their corporation to promoting the homosexual agenda, including homosexual marriage.”

Among its objections, the AFA said McDonald's' involvement in the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) was unacceptable.

In its Thursday statement, the group said it had dropped its boycott because McDonald's had agreed to no longer support “homosexual marriage,” and that it would not seek to renew its membership to the NGLCC in December.

Gay groups, however, questioned the abrupt victory. They point out that a company that scored 85 out of 100 points on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index and includes a corporate sponsored gay and lesbian employee resource group (McDonald's Gay, Lesbian and Ally Network MGLAN) would not use an outmoded term such as “homosexual marriage” in an official statement.

Further fueling their cynicism was a statement released Thursday by NGLCC leaders denying any knowledge of a withdrawal from McDonald's.

“Like all our corporate relationships, McDonald's USA has been a good partner with the Chamber,” the group said in a press release. “There has been no discussion between the NGLCC and McDonald's regarding continuing membership, nor has the NGLCC been notified of any move not to renew our work together.”

A McDonald's spokeswoman admitted that a McDonald's Vice President Richard Ellis would vacate his NGLCC board seat, but explained the reason was personal – Ellis had recently transferred to a post with McDonald's' Canadian operation.

In March, the AFA ended its two-year boycott against Ford Motor Company after it stopped advertising in the gay media. The automaker, however, has said it stopped running all niche advertising when the economy soured.

The association, founded in 1977 by Rev. Donald Wildmon, has a long history of objecting to equal rights for gays and lesbians. It has lobbied against gay marriage and hate-crime legislation that would benefit gays.