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In a world where deep-fried chicken sandwiches are the hottest bird since Big Bird, Chik-Fil-A has been THE topic of the week. First, we learned that they love donating big money to anti-gay groups. The other shoe dropped when Dan Cathy, the chain’s CEO, opened his beak about the gay issue. The revulsion, hysteria, and hype hit the interwebs so fast, even a waffle fry wouldn’t be finished cooking.

I first heard of the massive amount of money that Chik-Fil-A’s philanthropist wing donates a few years ago. Some of the recipients of those funds include the Family Research Council and Exodus International. The FRC was listed as a hate group in 2010, and Exodus International is the largest “ex-gay” ministry conglomerate in the world. Once I realized how much money was going to groups that were fighting against my fundamental right to marry, I decided that I could do without their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries.

That was almost two years ago.

Since then, their donations have continued. Their latest records indicated similar donations, which brings to the grand total nearly $5 Million that went to anti-gay groups. The FRC was included on their recipient list several years in a row.

This year, Dan Cathy proudly declared that his company was “guilty as charged” for supporting “the traditional family” and donating those large sums of cash to anti-gay groups. With Cathy’s declaration, Chik-Fil-A was immediately thrown into national scorn. Suddenly, boycotting them was in vogue. Major city leaders and mayors announced they would fight to prevent the chain from establishing a foothold in their cities.

They became the bad guy. In an instant, the culture war morphed into a war over chicken sandwiches. Interestingly, the American Family Association, the lead generals of the culture war, have their nose bent out of joint because those awful gays are boycotting such a fine, Christian company (I’ll quote them, but I do not link to hate groups):

The “Big Gay” machine has ramped up an un-relenting and vicious public attack against Chick-fil-A. Homosexual activists are spewing hate-filled bigotry and intolerance toward the company in unprecedented fashion.

Don’t ask me who “Big Gay” is. It’s a phrase that’s been tossed around quite a bit by their spokesbigot Bryan Fischer. Don’t expect a lot of truth out of him, though. After all, this is the same gasbag who whined that “Big Gay” would find a way to condemn Chik-Fil-A for giving free food to first responders after the movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado. Yeah. This is a group that uses horrific events as a way to attack LGBT people. And they love boycotts.

Don’t forget, the AFA is in the middle of boycotting The Home Depot and JC Penney for being too pro-gay. They recently declared victory for JCP’s loss of revenue, despite the fact that their retail model was flawed. It had nothing to do with their marketing.

But hey, they’re the AFA. That’s what they DO. They boycott companies that support “teh ghey.” Well, as long as they can, anyway. Major tech companies like Microsoft and Google get a pass. After all, they’re too big. Besides, the AFA can’t do without their YouTube accounts, their Android phones, and their Windoze computers (sorry Microsoft fans, I’m a Mac guy). But hey, Apple is also pretty pro-gay too.

According to Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel, it’s “economic terrorism” whenever gays organize boycotts. But when Matt Barber and his pals at the AFA organize a boycott, it’s perfectly acceptable use of the free market.

Hey, don’t ask me to explain it. I’m just as baffled as you are. These people are freaking  nuts.

Frankly, I could care less what Dan Cathy says. He, like most other conservatives have no clue about what they’re really saying when they spout out inane platitudes like “I support traditional marriage” or that they “support the family.” But I don’t want to be another blogger who misquotes the guy, so here’s what he actually said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

What Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said to Biblical Reporter, published July 2, when asked about the company’s support for traditional marriage and opposition to gay marriage.

“Well, guilty as charged. 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 operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families – some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that … We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

—-

On the Ken Coleman
radio program June 16:

“As it relates to society in general, 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. I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”

It goes without saying that I completely disagree with Mr. Cathy’s statements. I think they’re insensitive, belligerent, and wrong — both morally and theologically. After all, “Biblical principles” can mean a great many things. And is it really a good idea to declare publicly that you pass over most singles for management in favor for those who are married?

His declaration that we are “shaking our fist” at God is asinine at best — it’s quite clear that Mr. Cathy, along with plenty of other religious conservatives — are completely clueless that our country was not established to be a Christian nation. Our government was not based on the Bible. It was based on the United States Constitution. The Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by the United States Senate (made of of many of the same people who pushed for ratification of the Constitution itself), clearly states that we are not a Christian nation, and never were.

But — on the other hand — he has absolutely the right to run his business any way he chooses. They claim that they won’t fire someone for being gay. However, they do not have “sexual orientation” in their employment nondiscrimination clause. In fact, they have absolutely no internal protections or benefits for LGBT employees. The HRC rates their equality index at a big, fat zero.

As such, the HRC has its own campaign to ask Chik-Fil-A to get on the right side of history:

Join HRC in standing up to this discrimination. Sign our pledge now and let Chick-fil-A know that they are on the wrong side of history.

As support for LGBT equality grows, fair-minded customers now have the facts they need to decide whether they want to support a discriminatory company like Chick-fil-A.

Chik-Fil-A says many things. They say they welcome everyone, yet donate millions to fight marriage equality. They say that they wouldn’t discriminate against gays, yet have absolutely no protections for their employees.

None of this, though, means that we should make any attempt to block Chick-Fil-A from opening restaurants in Boston, New York, or Chicago. Like most progressives, I chuckled when I read that Boston’s mayor was going to do all he could to prevent the chain from opening a restaurant in its city limits. But once I thought about it, I realized that this was not only a bad idea, but was a violation of our country’s principles and the company’s constitutional rights.

My conservative readers might be surprised to see me say this, but I think these city leaders are dead wrong when they posture themselves like this. They might be even more surprised to know that the ACLU agrees with me.

“The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words,” said ACLU senior attorney Adam Schwartz.

“When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination,” he added.

We have to be very careful in how we present ourselves to our opponents. That city governments to discard the First Amendment so brazenly, we should be very concerned. The Examiner article goes on to quote liberal law professor Jonathan Turley:

“Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, said Moreno’s intentions raises ‘serious’ constitutional concerns,” Fox added.

“If a City Council started to punish companies because of the viewpoints of their chief operating officers, that would become a very long list of banned companies,” Turley said, calling the move a “very slippery slope.”

If we are going to speak out against Chik-Fil-A and other companies that oppose equality, we must do so in a manner that is true to the First Amendment.

Put simply, and pardon my language, they have a right to be assholes. But we liberals do not have the right to infringe on their rights to be assholes just because we think they’re assholes. By doing so, we confirm their fears that we’re trying to put them in jail for preaching against gays.

How can we maintain the high road if we allow ourselves to play their game? Remember — it’s the right wing that wants to put us in jail for being gay. We just want them to stop working to strip us of our rights.

The moment we start working to strip them of their rights (or even pretend as if we want to do that), we become an enemy, not only to those that would be oppressed but to the United States Constitution itself. And that, dear friends, is something I can never tolerate nor approve of. Speak out yes, but don’t do it by coercing the government to shut someone else down.

I gave up their chicken sandwiches and waffle fries when I realized that Chik-Fil-A’s actions directly affected me — my rights, my freedoms, and my value as a human being. Their actions — their donations, and their overall lack of support for LGBT people everywhere was enough for me to decide that I would look elsewhere for cheap food.

That one of their recipients is a certified hate group, and another is a group that continues to delude itself in “changing” gays to “straight,” it became a no-brainer. Would you buy a Big Mac if you found out that McDonalds donated to the KKK? (They don’t, by the way. That’s just a rhetorical question.)

There comes a time where practical principle must be employed. My decision to boycott Chik-Fil-A is based not on one man’s rhetoric, but on the actions of the company as a whole. I will exercise my right to speak out with my voice and my dollar. And I fully expect companies like Chik-Fil-A to do the same without any form of government interference.

Yes, we should confront bigotry when we see it. But we don’t ever win by using the long arm of the government to silence the bigots. All that does is create more problems — and more bigots.

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3 Responses to My Beef with Chik-Fil-A

  1. You're a Mac guy? I knew there was a reason I liked you!

  2. I believe that Chick-Fil-A can be legitimately blocked from opening in new cities simply because of its record of discrimination against women, especially working mothers.

    Companies that violate the law may enjoy free speech, but they do not have a right to open where their policies against employees, the environment, or food safety are illegal.

  3. I respectfully disagree, David. If I was the mayor of any city, big or small, and it was within legal bounds for me to block this company from building restaurants in our town I would do it. If it wasn't within legal bounds I would use my position to make it known that they are not welcome. The Mayor of Boston didn't threaten any legal prevention of the company from building a restaurant along the Freedom Trail; he sent a letter and made it public that they were not welcome. It's sort of the opposite of giving someone the "Key to the City." I honestly don't see any problem with that – legally or morally. If his constituents don't like the way he uses his bully pulpit then can tell him so at the ballot box if/when he runs again.

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