Facing a wave of criticism, Tim Hortons announced yesterday it was no longer associating its company with an anti-gay marriage rally in the United States.

News spread quickly through websites and blogs yesterday of a Tim Hortons franchise in Providence, R.I. sponsoring a fundraiser by the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage. The event billed as “Celebrate Marriage & Family Day” is taking place Sunday with the Tim Hortons logo on flyers and posters, according to media reports.

When contacted yesterday at its headquarters in Oakville, Ont., Tim Hortons said in a media release support for the rally was a mistake and it has since can­celled its sponsorship.

“Recently Tim Hortons was approached in Rhode Island to provide free coffee and products for a local event, as we do thousands of times a year,” read a com­pany press release. “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 cannot provide support at the event.”

The company’s website said it has policies against religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups.

The press release did not address the nature of the rally, but did say Tim Hortons has “always welcomed all families and communities to its restaurants and will continue to do so.”

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